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Potter Box


  • Several U.S. civil rights groups have started The Stop Hate for Profit campaign, which follows the dead of George Floyd, a Black American who died in police custody. The tragedy triggered worldwide protests against racism and policy brutality
  • Facebook and its photo sharing app Instagram were accused of doing too little to stop hate speech on their platforms. Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg decided not to take actions on an inflammatory post by U.S. President Donald Trump about the protests
  • Facebook has a history of spreading disinformation and with little actions taken from its leadership for change
  • Competitors like The North Face, Recreational Equipment Inc, or REI and recruiting company Upwork joined the campaign of pausing Facebook ads
  • Facebook and Instagram are one of Patagonia’s main advertising platforms. The advertiser spent $6.2 million on paid ads in 2019, according to research firm Pathmatics
  • Patagonia is a purpose-driven company that supports environmental conservation and sustainability, and it has also been politically vocal in the past
  • Should Patagonia join the Facebook boycott?


  • Kant’s Categorical Imperative: “Act on that maxim which will become a universal law.” Kant’s principle implies that what is right for one is right for all. Competitors like The North Face and REI have already joined the boycott, which set precedents for Patagonia. There are precedents outside of the outdoor industry as well. For example, Coca-Cola and Verizon decided to remove adds from Facebook. Is boycotting Facebook ads the right thing for Patagonia? The answer is yes for the following reason. Patagonia employs Facebook and Instagram for their primary channels to engage customers in community issues, yet the platforms’ actions are contradictory to Patagonia’s mission. Keep relying on such platforms are detrimental to the brand’s image and will serve as catalyst for Facebook’s irresponsibility and inaction to social issues.
  • Mill’s Principle of Utility (Utilitarianism): “Seek the greatest good for the greatest number.” Utilitarianism urges people to consider the consequences followed by a certain decision. The consequences of removing adds from Facebook would be that 1) it would hurt Patagonia financially as Facebook receives the largest advertising budget of the advertiser, which may upset the investors and therefore affect future investments; 2) The brand’s boycott action would be will-received by customers, employees and the general public as a move to stand for social justice. The consequences of remaining states quo: 1) Possible backlash from customers, employees and the general public as they demand an activist brand like Patagonia to take actions. To act with the greater good in mind, Patagonia should join the Facebook boycott with other companies and civil rights groups to demand for change.
  • Judeo-Christian Persons as Ends: “Love the neighbor as yourself.” This principle suggests that the unselfish move should be performed. By boycotting Facebook ads, the brand will be showing consumers, employees and communities in actions that it is committed to be a part of movement for change. Patagonia would not only benefit itself but also the general public in the long run. It would help to push Facebook’s leadership to change, to provide the public with a more transparent and healthy online media environment. If Patagonia decided not to take action, it is only considering a small group of people—the investors’ interests, which is selfish and therefore not recommended by the current principle.  


  • Professional values
    • Impact/Magnitude: The impact of boycotting Facebook or not is long-term, and it involves not only Patagonia the brand, but also its customers, employee, investors and the general public. Patagonia’s decision to act or not should consider all parties involved.  
    • Human Interest: Social justice is a human interest. If Patagonia stands with communities in all shapes and sizes, it should act in the best of human interest.
  • Moral values
    • Justice: The company should fight for justice for all, and removing all ads from Facebook is a way to show its support for justice.
    • Commitment: Patagonia is committed to be a part of movement for change.  
  • Logical values
    • Consistent: As an antiracism company, Patagonia’s move should be consistent with its mission and past actions.


  • Duty to self: Patagonia should uphold its brand identity as a force for good for all. Furthermore, the activist company should take actions that are in align with the brand reputation. Joining the boycott could be a
  • Duty to customers and employees: Patagonia stands with its customers and employees of all identities and strives to be a more inclusive and equitable company.
  • Duty to investors: The brand should take the investors’ interest into consideration as they determine the company’s future financial outlook. However, as a privately-owned company, there are less pressure from the investors to Patagonia compared to a publicly-held company.
  • Duty to society: The company needs to act based on what is right for the society, which is to use its voice, business and resource to make changes for the world. Participating in the Stop Hate for Profit campaign will benefit the society by pushing Facebook to be more responsible to the public in terms of building a healthy digital environment.

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