Recently a significant number of major brands made a conscious decision to pull all of their advertising from Facebook and other social platforms. These brands include such notables as: Coca Cola, Clorox, CVS, Denny’s, Dunkin’, Eddie Bauer, Ford, Honda, Hershey’s, HP, Lego and Levi Strauss. The list is much longer, but my space is not. The dollars they discontinued are many, many millions. There is no indication when they will be back, but what is clear is why they left.
From my perspective, not only is this a great idea, but it brings into question why these really smart people decided to align their brand and spend millions with these morally challenged businesses in the first place.
These social media platforms are aggregators of nonsense, sewer talk and vitriol for which they cannot be held accountable. That fact, in and of itself, should be enough to make sensible people question the character of the people that operate these businesses and then make a decision to use sparingly, if at all.
In its infinite wisdom, Congress passed legislation shielding these companies from any false, inflammatory, liable and or slanderous information they broadcast. We, as a newspaper, have no such protection. Whatever runs on the pages of our newspapers, we are accountable for the veracity of, and if we do run some false information, independent of the source, we can be held liable. While it is not the focus of this writing, this law must be changed, and these companies must be held accountable.
I sparingly use some of these platforms, and so does the newspaper you are reading. We do financially support these purveyors of any and all the hate speech as described by the aforementioned brands, but our financial connection is very limited and continuously under review. A day may come when we decide to pull all of our money out of these social media meeting places, and that would destroy their balance sheets. HA! We made the decision to scrutinize all of this stuff because it makes sense for us to not deeply or frequently entangle our trusted brand in the world of social media where most of the sense is non.
We don’t run everything we find or which is submitted. This wisdom protects our readers from untruths and information that would not really benefit anyone and keeps us from defending ourselves in court.
That the world is full of frustrated, non-professional, self-proclaimed journalists is not new. These folks have been around since Gutenberg. What social media has done is glamorize their parents’ basement from where a lot of their unverified and unchallenged information emanates. Now they can go viral, and in our world today we all are aware of how much damage a virus can do.
In a place where there is little common sense, we can expect nonsense to be more pervasive that the other kind. Reader beware.
Here is a great idea for these major brands: shift the social media dollars into one of the most trusted and loved sources of news in America, local newspapers! We can deliver, branding, messaging, attracting and validating value, and we need you a lot more than they do.