“They allowed themselves to get addicted to the convenience of the products, so they go along with it,” said McNamee, who co-founded venture capital firm Elevation Partners.
“Facebook is terrible, but I have to maximize shareholder value, so I have to use it. They tell themselves this is not their fault. It’s really Facebook’s. No, it is your fault,” McNamee said.
‘More work to do’
In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said the company’s “work on safety and security is the most comprehensive effort to remove hate speech of any major consumer technology company.”
“We have more than 40,000 people focused on this and are on track to spend more than $5 billion on safety and security in 2021. While we have more work to do, we remain committed to getting this right,” the Facebook spokesperson said.
Sonnenfeld: ‘They must sever ties’
Still, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a professor at the Yale School of Management who regularly talks to CEOs about controversial topics, called for business leaders to take action following the recent revelations at Facebook.
“They must sever ties as they are complicit tacitly with some of the worst human atrocities, human rights violations and subversion of democracy,” Sonnenfeld told CNN on Monday.
But major companies are not the only source of Facebook’s ad revenue. Countless small businesses rely on Facebook to reach customers. And these smaller firms may not have the luxury of saying goodbye to the unparalleled reach of Facebook.
That means Facebook is no longer reliant on huge ad spends from major brands. It has an army of small-and-pop advertisers to fall back on.
“You may see one again,” McNamee, who advises Stop Hate for Profit, said of a potential ad boycott of Facebook. “I wouldn’t rule it out.”
Although many companies resumed advertising on Facebook after pausing last year during the boycott, some brands have not returned.
Patagonia told CNN on Monday that it halted advertising on Facebook and Instagram in June 2020 and has no plans to resume ad spending on the platforms.
Advertisers “do have leverage,” McNamee said. “They’re just choosing not to use it.”