|Hyundai Motor emblem / Courtesy of Hyundai Motor America|
By Nam Hyun-woo
Hyundai Motor has joined a global brands' boycott of Facebook over its handling of hate speech, pulling its U.S. affiliate's ads from the social media platform.
According to the carmaker, Hyundai Motor America paused running advertising on Facebook from June 19, after it announced a statement celebrating "Juneteenth," a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.
"Hyundai Motor America opposes all forms of hate speech, including on social media platforms," the company told The Korea Times. "We have high expectations for the properties where we run advertising and closely monitor all of our paid media activities to determine if any adjustments are needed. We also regularly engage in conversations with our partners on their policies and procedures for managing content."
In the Juneteenth statement, Hyundai Motor America referred to the death of George Floyd, a black man killed by Minneapolis police. The statement read, "His death and the subsequent protests have provided all of us an opportunity to do more than talk about the persistent racism that confronts African Americans. We can take tangible actions as a company to create greater opportunities, for more people and help keep the promise of this great nation."
Following the statement, Hyundai Motor America said it would create a "diversity advisory council" in charge of taking "a critical look" at its business to improve its diversity representation. The decision to suspend ads on Facebook appears to be in line with this.
Hyundai Motor headquarters in South Korea refused to provide additional comments over Hyundai Motor America's decision, such as the amount it paid for advertising on Facebook.
Though Hyundai Motor did not speak out about its participation in the boycott, it came as a prompt move among rival automakers' response to the issue. Honda America said Friday that it would stop advertising on Facebook and Instagram, to "stand with people united against hate and racism."
While Hyundai Motor America decided to halt its advertising on Facebook, its Seoul-headquartered parent company, Hyundai Motor Group, has yet to decide whether affiliates in Korea will join the boycott.
More than 160 well-known companies have joined the campaign to suspend advertising on Facebook, since the launch of the boycott earlier this month. They include Verizon, Starbucks, Levi Strauss, Coca-Cola and Unilever.
With a slew of industrial giants joining the campaign, Samsung Electronics declined to comment on the matter.
Facebook is being hit with the boycott after it declined to take action against President Donald Trump's controversial statement ― "when the looting starts, the shooting starts," which was widely interpreted as a threat against protests associated with Floyd's death.
The social media platform reversed its policies to hide or block content considered hateful Friday, but saw its stock drop 8 percent as the advertising boycott began to bite.
Hyundai Motor's 2019 sales volume in the U.S. grew 4.7 percent year-on-year to reach 710,000, ending two consecutive years of backpedaling. Its luxury brand, Genesis, also showcased a twofold growth in sales last year, selling 21,333 vehicles.