Unilever Warns to Pull Out Advertising With Tech Giants Over Fake News

By Judgefloro [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia Commons

One of the biggest advertisers in the world is threatening to cut the amount of cash that it spends with tech giant if they fail to stop toxic cultures and fake news on their platforms.

The firm warning was issued by Unilever and Keith Weed, the marketing chief of the company who oversees an annual budget amounting to €7.7bn (£6.8bn). It is intended to unrivaled on marketing for hundreds of household brands that are well-known across the globe including Dove, Lynx, Marmite, and PG Tips.

In a keynote speech that he is scheduled to deliver on Monday at a major industry conference, he will say: “It is critical that our brands remain not only in a safe environment, but a suitable one. Unilever, as a trusted advertiser, does not want to advertise on platforms which do not make a positive contribution to society.”

He promised that the company would not invest in the “platforms or environments that do not protect our children or which create division in society, and promote anger or hate.”

He will say: “We will prioritise investing only in responsible platforms that are committed to creating a positive impact on the society.

“Fake news, racism, sexism, terrorists spreading messages of hate, toxic content directed at children – parts of the internet we have ended up with is a million miles from where we thought it would take us.

“It is in the digital media industry’s interest to listen and act on this. Before viewers stop viewing, advertisers stop advertising and publishers stop publishing.”

It is the most recent backlash against the likes of Google, Twitter, and Facebook which are facing heightening pressure over their unrivalled influence and power. Politicians in the United States and the United Kingdom are investigating Twitter and Facebook over Russian propaganda that appear on their sites and whether the content could have influenced the elections in both countries.

In 2017, numerous major brands pulled out their advertisements from Google after it was discovered that they were appearing next to extremist and offensive content on YouTube.

The latest row erupted with the online video site in 2018 after Logan Paul, one of its most high-profile stars, filmed himself in front of a dead body in Japan and firing a taser at a dead rat. Last week, the Silicon Valley company that is ultimately owned by Alphabet suspended the advertisements that are appearing on the content that he uploads on the website.

Weed said that it was also up to brands to help in resolving the said issues.

Weed will say: “No longer can we stand to one side or remain at arm’s length just because issues in the supply chain do not affect us directly. As one of the largest advertisers in the world, we cannot have an environment where our consumers don’t trust what they see online.

“I prefer to be part of the solution.”

On the other hand, the consumer goods giant will also team up with IBM to pilot blockchain technology on exploring how the company can help in reducing advertising fraud.