Critics of Facebook Inc. who have assailed the social network as failing to adequately police hateful and misleading content on its service found a powerful ally Friday: Unilever, one of the world’s largest advertisers, said it would stop spending money with Facebook’s properties this year.
The decision by the maker of major consumer goods like Dove soap and Hellmann’s mayonnaise to follow other brands in an advertising boycott, prompted a rare reaction from Facebook’s investors. Shares plunged 8.3% on the news, eliminating $56 billion in market value. Unilever’s pledge applies immediate pressure on other big companies and presents a risk to Facebook’s dominant business. Later Friday, Coca-Cola Co. said it would pause ads on all social media platforms for at least 30 days, while Honda Motor Co.’s U.S. unit, Hershey Co. and several smaller brands said they would join the boycott.