A Facebook Ads Wrap-up, as 2020 Closes

The boycott of Facebook's ad platform seems to have held as the year ends

A Facebook Ads Wrap-up, as 2020 Closes

The #StopHateForProfit boycott officially ended July 31, 2020, but it seems to have informally extended in our communities — perhaps because Facebook has continued to be used to promote misinformation around science and to foment domestic terrorism. It was also caught attempting to shut down a group of outside critics in early October, and in December aligned with other social media firms to ferret out Covid-19 vaccine misinformation — at a very late date indeed. Facebook has also become the subject of a major lawsuit filed by the FTC.

2020 might represent the beginning of the end of Facebook’s hegemony.

I’ve covered how publishers have responded to the initial advertising boycott for months now (here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for the main posts). Now that we’re at the end of 2020 — YES! — I thought I’d check on where things stand one last time before Big Tech transforms forever.

The vast majority of the publishers I’ve been tracking have remained off Facebook’s ad platform. The first three publishers to use it again — Harvard Business Review Press, MIT Press, and ProQuest — have become one (ProQuest). Even the heaviest user of the three and overall (Harvard Business Review Press) stopped using Facebook ads in October.

Harvard Business Review (which is not the Press, per se, but running ads covering products created by the Press) had been running a very robust set of ads (Facebook estimates ~1,500 ads, up from the ~120 they were running in August, the ~1,100 they were running in September, and the ~1,400 they were running in October). However, on October 23, their ads stopped entirely, reasons unknown.

The only new dabbler in ads is De Gruyter, with one ad run on one day in December.

Unilever and Clorox Return to Facebook Post-Boycott

Here’s the update. As before, only those running ads are highlighted.


Stated and Continuous Boycott Participants

  • American Academy of Family Physicians
  • Annual Reviews
  • Research Square
  • University of California Press

Former Boycott Participants, Now Advertising

University of Toronto Press — multiple ads started October 2, 2020; more started November 2, 2020; more started December 16 and 18, 2020

New in December, Previously No Facebook Ads

De Gruyter — one ad run December 15, 2020

Dabblers in Facebook Ads

American Association for the Advancement of Science — active ads from August 18-September 10, 2020; then from September 28-October 26, 2020; none since

Emerald Publishing — two ads run between September 17-24, 2020

Frontiers — one ad run September 15-16, 2020

Harvard Business Review Press — large ad buys started August 11, 2020, stopped October 23, 2020

IEEE Xplore — one ad run October 2-4, 2020

MIT Press — active ads running August 12-October 22, 2020

Princeton University Press — single ad run October 6, 2020; single ad run December 14-22, 2020

ProQuest — multiple ads running between July 14-August 10, 2020; single ad   running September 2-5, 2020; single ad running September 11-12, 2020; single ad run December 3-10, 2020

Likely Boycott Participants, No Ads

  • Academy of Management
  • AIP Publishing
  • American Academy of Neurology
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • American Anthropological Association
  • American Association for Cancer Research
  • American Chemical Society
  • American College of Cardiology
  • American College of Chest Physicians
  • American College of Physicians
  • American Dental Association
  • American Gastroenterological Association
  • American Geophysical Union
  • American Mathematical Society
  • American Meterological Society
  • American Physiological Society
  • American Psychological Association
  • American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • American Society for Nutrition
  • American Society of Civil Engineers
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers
  • American Urological Association
  • American Veterinary Medical Association
  • American Water Works Association
  • Biophysical Society
  • BMJ
  • Cambridge University Press
  • Canadian Science Publishing
  • Cell Press
  • EBSCO
  • Electrochemical Society
  • Elsevier
  • Endocrine Society
  • GeoScienceWorld
  • Harvard University Press
  • Health Affairs
  • IEEE
  • ICE Publishing
  • IOP Publishing
  • IOS Press
  • JAMA
  • JBJS
  • JMIR Publications
  • Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Karger Publishers
  • Mary Ann Liebert
  • McGraw-Hill
  • MDPI
  • Modern Language Association
  • NEJM and NEJM Knowledge+
  • Oxford University Press
  • PLOS
  • PNAS
  • Project MUSE
  • Purdue University Press
  • Rockefeller University Press
  • RSNA
  • Royal Society of Chemistry
  • SAGE Publishing
  • Society for Neuroscience
  • Springer Nature
  • SSRN
  • Taylor & Francis
  • Thieme
  • University of Chicago Press
  • University of Michigan Press
  • Wiley
  • Wolters Kluwer
  • Yale University Press

I don’t plan to update this list again, but with Facebook a wildcard, who knows if something will trigger another boycott?

Thanks for reading.


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