Facebook Ad Boycott Sinks Stock

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.

Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg attempted to address advertiser concerns in a live question-and-answer session with employees Friday, announcing a handful of minor changes to the company’s ad and content policies. But his remarks didn’t go far enough for critics.

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