Microsoft Halts Facebook Ads After Spending $116 Million on Them in 2019

Tech giant is concerned its ads are being featured next to inappropriate posts

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Microsoft has halted advertising on Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram over concerns its ads are appearing next to content it deems inappropriate. The ad suspension, even if temporary, could be substantial, as Microsoft was the social networking service’s third-largest advertiser in 2019, spending an estimated $116 million, according to Bloomberg.

The software giant suspended advertising on Facebook last month and hasn’t resumed since, according to Axios, the first outlet to report the story.

“Based on concerns we had back in May we suspended all media spending on Facebook/Instagram in the US and we’ve subsequently suspended all spending on Facebook/Instagram worldwide,” Microsoft CMO Chris Capossela said in an internal memo shared by Axios.

The news comes as Facebook is grappling with an ad boycott spearheaded by civil rights groups like the NAACP and the Anti-Defamation League. The #StopHateForProfit campaign, as it has been dubbed, accuses CEO Mark Zuckerberg of allowing extremists to promote violence and hate speech to go unchecked, thanks to its laissez-faire moderation policies in comparison to other tech giants like YouTube and Twitter. A number of major companies, including Verizon, Coca-Cola and Unilever, have joined the ad boycott in the last week, saying they’ll avoid posting ads on Facebook or Instagram at least until the end of July.

In response, Facebook last Friday said it would start cracking down on more ads, including those that criticize immigrants and migrants, and that it would also add notifications to “newsworthy” posts from politicians that otherwise break their rules.

Microsoft, however, said it’s not a part of the #StopHateForProfit campaign and that it acted on its own in deciding to pause advertising on the platform. Capossela, according to Axios, said Microsoft is continuing to talk to Facebook about what it would take to return to the platform, although it doesn’t expect to resume advertising on Facebook until September at the earliest.