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Adidas is itself no stranger to controversy © AFP/File Odd ANDERSEN

Sports

Adidas, Puma join Facebook ad boycott over hate speech

FRANKFURT, Germany, Jun 30 – German sportswear makers Adidas and Puma said Tuesday they would join a growing advertiser boycott over hate speech against Facebook and Instagram in July, following major consumer companies like Levi’s and Coca-Cola.

“Puma will join the #StopHateForProfit campaign… throughout July,” a spokeswoman told AFP, citing a social media hashtag organised by social justice activists taken up by some of the companies.

The leaping-cat brand “is part of an overall effort to create positive change and improvement in Facebook’s platform by demanding the removal of inaccurate, hostile and harmful conversation,” she added.

While he did not reference the hashtag, a spokesman for Puma’s hometown rival Adidas said the company would “develop criteria to develop and maintain a cosmopolitan and safe environment that will apply to ourselves and our partners” during a Facebook ad pause also encompassing US subsidiary Reebok.

“Racism, discrimination and hateful comments should have no place either in our company or in our society,” he added.

Facebook shares clawed back Monday some of the $50 billion in market value they had shed as the advertiser boycott picked up pace last week.

Around 200 companies including giants like Starbucks and Unilever have followed the appeal of civil rights groups like the NAACP and Anti-Defamation League to stage the July boycott.

The movement against online hate speech has picked up steam following George Floyd’s May 25 death at the hands of a white policeman in Minneapolis.

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On Friday, Facebook had said it would ban a “wider category of hateful content” in ads and add tags to posts that are “newsworthy” but violate platform rules — following the lead of Twitter, which has used such labels on tweets from US President Donald Trump.

But experts have highlighted the social network’s massive advertiser base of small- and medium-sized companies chasing over 2.6 billion worldwide users, potentially limiting the impact of big-name boycotts.

Adidas has itself been in the sights of the global anti-discrimination movement.

Earlier this month, the three-stripe brand rejected claims by employees that it was not doing enough to combat racism, after its human resources chief last year described such complaints as “noise” only discussed in the US.

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