The world’s largest coffee company, Starbucks, is reportedly looking at leaving Facebook after “insensitive” and “negative” comments on their posts backing social justice programs.
According to BuzzFeed News, Facebook employees responsible for managing Starbucks’ relationship with the social media giant are working to keep the company on board. If Starbucks did decide to move forward with severing ties with Facebook, “it would be one of the largest companies ever” to do so.
“Starbucks is in the process of evaluating their organic presence on FB, and whether they should continue to have a presence on the platform at all,” an employee at Facebook told colleagues last week. “Anytime [sic] they post (organically) in regards to social issues or their mission & values work (e.g. BLM, LGBTQ, sustainability/climate change, etc.) they are overwhelmed by negative/insensitive, hate speech related comments on their posts.”
The coffee company’s social media team “has struggled to moderate hateful responses and is unable to disable comments on their page” and had a number of questions about Facebook’s algorithm.
“While some changes have been implemented, we believe more can be done to create welcoming and inclusive online communities,” Starbucks spokesperson Sanja Gould said in a statement to Buzzfeed. “We work collaboratively with all companies we do business with to ensure any advertising done on our behalf is in alignment with our brand standards.”
Facebook spokesperson Dani Lever defended the company, saying their team provides clients with “tools to limit this content from appearing on partners’ pages including ways for brands to control those who can comment on their posts.”
“Our teams work with our clients around the world on various issues and as this post shows we are working with them to keep hate off of their pages,” Lever explained.
Starbucks has repeatedly come under fire for its pro-Black Lives Matter and anti-law enforcement stances.
At one point, the company created Black Lives Matter shirts, pins, and nametags that employees could purchase, just weeks after backlash for employees targeting law enforcement.
Black Lives Matter. We continue to listen to our partners and communities and their desire to stand for justice together. The Starbucks Black Partner Network co-designed t-shirts with this graphic that will soon be sent to 250,000+ store partners. pic.twitter.com/Wexb45RcTE
— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) June 12, 2020
“We see you. We hear you. Black Lives Matter. That is a fact and will never change,” a press release said. “This movement is a catalyst for change, and right now, it’s telling us a lot of things need to be addressed so we can make space to heal.”
After intense scrutiny, Starbucks flipped the script and changed course, The Daily Wire previously reported.
“Black lives matter and Starbucks is committed to doing our part in ending systemic racism,” Starbucks said in a statement at the time. “As a company, Starbucks leaders continue to listen to partners (employees) about how they want to take a stand for justice, while proudly wearing the green apron and standing united together.”
A few weeks earlier, in mid-December, two uniformed sheriff’s deputies in Southern California were denied service. According to Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco, the officers were “completely ignored because they were in uniform.”
“They tried to get served, they asked if anyone was going to help them, they were laughed at, they were completely ignored — obviously ignored to where other patrons knew they were being ignored,” Bianco said.
The pair ended up leaving and getting coffee elsewhere, CBS News reported.
Starbucks was forced to apologize in summer of 2019 after six Tempe, Arizona, police officers were asked to leave one of their stores. Employees asked the officers to leave because a customer felt unsafe. As The Washington Post reported:
According to the association, the officers were standing with their coffees before their shift when a barista told them their presence was making a customer feel unsafe. The barista — who knew one of the officers, a regular customer, by name — requested that they “move out of the customer’s line of sight or to leave,” the association said in a statement posted to Twitter on Friday.
“Disappointed, the officers did in fact leave,” the group wrote, adding, “While the barista was polite, making such a request at all was offensive. Unfortunately, such treatment has become all too common in 2019.”
In 2019, an Oklahoma police officer stopped at the coffee company during his Thanksgiving Day shift. When he picked up his drink, the word “Pig” was written on it, The Daily Wire reported. Starbucks issued a statement apologizing for their employee’s conduct and the Barista and manager were eventually fired, KTUL-TV reported. Kiefer Police Chief Johnny O’Mara, however, wanted the employees rehired as a way of initiating “civility by forgiving minor indiscretions and using those moments to help people better themselves.” It is unclear whether or not those employees were rehired.