Unilever’s former long-time CEO Paul Polman — for decades a champion of conscious capitalism and doing things the right way in business — says it’s time for Facebook (FB) founder Mark Zuckerberg to step up in the face of growing advertiser dissatisfaction with hate speech on the platform.
If he doesn’t, Facebook may be headed down the same path as the dinosaurs.
“It’s a major wake-up call for Facebook. I think they’ll rally to the challenge. If they don’t, we’ll visit them soon in the graveyard of dinosaurs,” said Polman, now speaking as the co-founder of Imagine, on Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade.
Polman’s comments come on the heels of a yawning revolt by major advertisers on Facebook. Over the last week alone, Polman’s former employer Unilever, Coca-Cola, Pfizer and Yahoo Finance parent company Verizon have revealed plans to pause advertising spend on Facebook’s platforms until Zuckerberg lays out clear-cut measures to improve content policing. Constellation Brands — maker of Corona beer and Robert Mondavi wine — told Yahoo Finance on Wednesday it has decided to halt spending on Facebook for now as well.
Some 300 companies have reportedly halted their advertising spend on Facebook.
Facebook’s usually teflon stock has taken a mild beating in the past week as the Street prices in a third quarter revenue hit. The stock has fallen about 0.5% in the past five trading sessions, according to Yahoo Finance Premium data, underperforming the Nasdaq Composite’s 3% gain.
“The boycott is growing. Many companies are now saying you know, my consumers want us to behave this way. Many companies think they can outsource their supply chains and outsource their responsibilities. You cannot. Facebook, like any other company, has a serious responsibility to ensure that whatever product they put out there is actually making this world a better place. If it doesn’t, then consumers and citizens will put pressure on anybody that participates to alter them. We need business models with positive impacts on society. It’s part of the anger. If we don’t channel the anger in the right direction we’ll pay a dear price for that,” Polman explained.
Added Polman, “[Mark] Zuckerberg has been slow, a little bit arrogant, some people would argue, in his response.”