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Telecom Giant Verizon Latest To Join Facebook Ad Boycott

MENLO PARK (CBS SF / CNN) -- Telecom giant Verizon said Thursday it is pulling its advertising from Facebook, in what may be the biggest brand yet to join the #StopHateForProfit boycott.

"We're pausing our advertising until Facebook can create an acceptable solution that makes us comfortable and is consistent with we've done with YouTube and other partners," said John Nitti, chief media officer for Verizon, in a statement to CNN.

The announcement marks the first US telecom giant to join the boycott. Spokespeople for other major wireless carriers, including AT&T and T-Mobile, did not immediately respond to CNN's requests for comment. (CNN's parent company WarnerMedia is owned by AT&T.)

Verizon's commitment covers advertising on both Facebook and Instagram, according to Verizon spokesperson Emily Vicker. Asked whether the company would also be suspending organic, unpaid content, Vicker declined to respond.

The decision follows an open letter to advertisers Thursday by the Anti-Defamation League. The letter highlighted an example of a Verizon ad that the ADL said appeared beside a conspiracy-mongering post on Facebook.

"We found an advertisement for Verizon appearing next to a video from the conspiracy group QAnon drawing on hateful and antisemitic rhetoric," the letter read, "warning that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is planning to bring on civil war with concentration camps and coffins at the ready and claiming Americans are already quarantined in militarized districts."

In its statement Thursday, Verizon said: "We have strict content policies in place and have zero tolerance when they are breached."

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In regard to previously announced ad boycotts, Carolyn Everson, VP Global Business Group Facebook, said in a statement to CNN Business: "We deeply respect any brand's decision and remain focused on the important work of removing hate speech and providing critical voting information. Our conversations with marketers and civil rights organizations are about how, together, we can be a force for good."

This is not the first time Verizon has participated in an advertising boycott of social media. In 2017, the carrier yanked its advertising from YouTube amid an earlier public uproar over the platform's handling of hate speech.

Verizon's announcement Thursday suggests that its boycott could last longer than that of other companies that have joined the campaign organized by civil rights groups.

The pressure campaign is being led by advocacy groups including the NAACP, the ADL and Color of Change.

"We applaud Verizon for joining this growing fight against hate and bigotry by pausing their advertising on Facebook's platforms, until they put people and safety over profit," said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. "This is how real change is made."

© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten. CNN contributed to this report.

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