Stop Hate For Profit is an action that has been gaining momentum in the United States over the past month, countering the spread of divisive messages on social media. A group of human rights organizations is leading the initiative, and its focus is on Facebook, which has not made enough of hate speech and racist attacks in its environment.
Activists have not limited themselves to the outrage to Facebook, but on June 17 called on companies to suspend their advertising campaigns in July in this environment. The goal is to make Facebook financially interested in improving the situation. The call has proved unexpectedly successful in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests. Coca-Cola, Adidas, Ford, Starbucks, HP, the world’s largest advertiser Unilever, the mobile company Verizon and hundreds of other lesser-known US companies have announced the suspension of their Facebook campaigns.
It is not yet clear how much the boycott will actually affect Facebook. The lion’s share of the more than $ 70 billion earned last year came from advertising money, but most of the advertisers are micro-enterprises that have not joined the campaign. Facebook’s share price fell in June, but has recovered to date.
The media coverage of the boycott may be a more significant factor. In any case, Facebook has stated in vague terms that it is actively planning steps to curb racism, hate speech and misinformation.
Advertising money of Estonian companies on the Kremlin’s propaganda channels
If we look for parallels with Estonia, then the propaganda publications operating with the support of the Kremlin deal with the destruction of society here. Their agenda is to create and amplify gaps among the Estonian people and cause insecurity.
The Kremlin’s propaganda environments operate with the support of advertising money, and Estonian companies are also their advertisers. How serious is the problem? A random check of propaganda web sites during June 4.-12. show Estonian companies such as Tallink, E-lux, Hansapost, Rademar, Rahahoius.ee, Coop, Elisa, KSA, Hansapost, Citroen, Lexus and Volvo Estonian offices, Tartu County Health Sports Center, SMS Raha, Ehituse ABC , Berlin Chemise Menarin pharmaceutical company, DPD, Smatrech.ee, Mööbel 1 webshop, Real estate developments in Lauluväljak, Skyon and the Liikuri quarter all advertise there. As you can see, the advertising of Estonian companies is widespread in these channels and the money paid for all of them helps to keep the propaganda channels running.
The most schizophrenic cases appear when organizations operating with Estonian taxpayer funding buy advertising in the Kremlin’s propaganda channels. Thus, the banners of the “Holiday in Estonia” campaign handled by EAS (Enterprise Estonia) could be found on the eadaily.com site. The Suure-Jaani Industrial Park, which receives support from the European Union’s Regional Development Fund, also advertises itself on propaganda sites.
Why do Estonian companies support the Kremlin’s propaganda channels? The reason is both the companies’ ignorance of the problem as well as a poor level of social responsibility. For some companies that have previously suspended their ads from propaganda channels, restrictions have been lost during Google updates.
Propaganda funding can easily be limited
Estonian ads reach propaganda channels through Google AdWords. In this environment, it is very easy to exclude keywords, topics, and more specifically pages that you do not want to stand out with your messages:
Images: Book Catalog/Flickr/CC; screenshot, Propastop.