In the wake of illegal and extremist content, Unilever has threatened Google and Facebook to stop advertising on their platforms, Unilever says if Google and Facebook do not combat extremist and illegal content they will pull out their ads from their platform.
Unilever also said that consumer trust is getting low on social media, according to the Chief Marketing Officer Keith Weed, “In an environment where consumers do not trust what they see online is useless for us.” It is in their core interest if digital media platforms act before advertisers stop advertising on their platforms, he added.
Mr. Weed has explicitly criticized the way online media is getting polluted with inappropriate content, he said companies like us cannot support the online advertising environment where there is extremist material, political manipulation, fake news, sexism, child molestation, and racism are widely spreading. People are now increasingly becoming concerned about the impact of digital media on well-being; this is not something that can be overlooked.
Unilever is now more concerned about this issue, as part of their Social Corporate Responsibility (CSR) they have pledged to invest in the platforms that contribute positively to the society and not to invest in the platforms that do not make efforts to protect children. The company has also pledged to tackle gender stereotypes in advertising and only partner with companies that have created a responsible digital infrastructure.
The Big Advertising Platforms
According to the research data from Pivotal, Google and Facebook jointly shared the 73% of revenues in all digital advertising in the United States in 2017. According to eMarketer Google revenues from digital advertising touched 4.4 billion pounds while Facebook revenues reached 1.8 billion pounds in 2017.
Google and Facebook are still dominating the advertising landscape, boycotting their advertising platform is not easy for many companies but Unilever has started this to change which requires more and more advertisers to join their campaign. Digital media experts say Unilever cannot do anything on its own, more companies and advertisers have to support them in this regard.
However, discussion and stress on curbing extremist and inappropriate content on digital platforms are not new, time to time governments as well as companies are raising their voice to tackle the issues, British Prime Minister Theresa May also called upon investors and tech companies to solve the problem in a robust manner.
In December, EU pushed the new user privacy and regulation laws for tech companies that could help curb the inappropriate content on digital media. After the legislation has been passed Google and Facebook both announced to improve measures on their platform in order to minimize the impact of illegal content on the platforms.
The bigger the platform the harder it gets
Many critics like eMarketer have been continuously criticizing Google and Facebook for their slow response towards illegal and inappropriate content distribution. However, they acknowledge that Google and Facebook are addressing the problems now, but the major problem to look at the size of the platform. Google and Facebook are the companies that have been expanded to billions of users and hundred thousands of services/applications. The process of developing and changing digital products and platforms is inherently slow, it takes lot of time and effort to code and recode, test and implement. A Facebook spokesperson told BBC, that they regard Unilever commitments and working closely with them to resolve the issues.