German utility E.ON joined a growing number of international companies and suspended advertising on Facebook and its Instagram unit to protest the social media giant’s lax attitude towards hate speech, discrimination and intolerance.
“At E.ON, we act in line with essential values, such as respect, diversity and tolerance. We expressly and resolutely oppose racism, hate speech and discrimination,” the company said in a statement.
“We also expect this clear attitude from our partners. In this context, we consider it our responsibility to review our commitment and our role on Facebook and Instagram.”
E.ON said it will discontinue all ads, posts and activities on both platforms until further notice.
The utility in a transaction completed in June has transferred all renewable generation assets to rival RWE, but still is active in other areas of the renewables sphere, such as joint green hydrogen projects with steel maker ThyssenKrupp, or its e-mobility charging network.
The boycott against Facebook was triggered by the #StopHateForProfit campaign by US civil rights groups in the wake of the death of George Floyd, and has attracted large corporations ranging from Germany’s Adidas and SAP, via Dutch multinational Unilever to Coca Cola.
The campaign wants to pressure Facebook chief executive and billionaire Mark Zuckerberg to go beyond lip service, and actually remove hate speech posts, even if that incites the rage of US President Donald Trump.
Trump has used Facebook and other so-called social media for and his election campaign, including with repeated lies about vote-by-mail, which he is believed to want to supress as a higher voter turn-out may dim his re-election chances further.
Trump in the past has also frequently spread lies against wind power, among other things claiming wind turbines cause cancer, and was engaged in an ultimately futile years-long court battle against an offshore wind project in Scotland.
It is unclear, whether the boycott will sway Zuckerberg to really act against Trump as most Facebook ads come from small-and medium-sized companies that often rely on the platform to increase their reach, while the loss of advertisement from large corporations will only reduce ad revenues marginally.
Facebook, while providing a platform for Trump, racists, and far-right extremists that destabilise democracy in the US and world-wide, is also one of the the largest corporate buyers of renewable energy.