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Diageo pauses spending on all major social media platforms as boycott spreads beyond Facebook

The London-based company made its move less than 24 hours after Coca-Cola Co. said it would pause global spending on all platforms—not just Facebook—including Snapchat and Google-owned YouTube. Unilever also included Twitter in its Facebook and Instagram freeze, but did not go further than that.

Most brands have limited their social media ad pauses to Facebook and Instagram in response to calls by civil rights groups for a Facebook ad boycott until the social media giant does more to prevent the spread of disinformation and hate speech. A lot of brands, including Unilever and Honda, have also kept their freeze pledges confined to the U.S.

By going further—and global—Coke, and now Diageo, could potentially be starting a trend that will put all major platforms on the hot seat, lending credence to a warning that Carolyn Everson, Facebook’s VP of global business group, has made about how the boycott could spread. In an email to advertisers obtained by Ad Age earlier this week, Everson said: “Many of you have expressed concern that a boycott on Facebook is unlikely to stop there—boycotts tend to spread to other platforms/media and boycotting in general is not the way for us to make progress together. I also really hope by now you know that we do not make policy changes tied to revenue pressure. We set our policies based on principles rather than business interests.”

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated that Diageo’s pause includes YouTube, based on information provided by a company representative. The representative later clarified that it does not include YouTube.