Unilever is threatening to stop advertising on digital platforms such as Google and Facebook that have become a “swamp” filled with fake news, racism, and extremism, according to a report.
Unilever’s chief marketing and communications officer, Keith Weed, will deliver the warning to digital platforms during a speech at an advertising conference in California on Monday, according to CNN, which obtained a copy of the remarks. Unilever wants companies like Google and Facebook to do more to address the negative content on the sites.
“We cannot continue to prop up a digital supply chain … which at times is little better than a swamp in terms of its transparency,” Weed will say.
Unilever owns Dove, Lipton and Ben & Jerry’s, and has a yearly marketing budget of $9.8 billion. According to CNN, 25 percent of Unilever’s ads are digital.
As part of its new advertising pledge, Unilever has vowed not to invest in platforms that fail to protect children or sow division in society, to invest solely in platforms that positively contribute to society, and limit its partnerships to companies that create a responsible digital infrastructure.
"It is acutely clear from the groundswell of consumer voices over recent months that people are becoming increasingly concerned about the impact of digital on wellbeing, on democracy — and on truth itself," Weed said, according to BBC.
Weed will also warn that the content on social media has damaged social trust and undermined democracies.
“2018 is either the year of techlash, where the world turns on the tech giants — and we have seen some of this already — or the year of trust,” the Unilever marketing head will say. “The year where we collectively rebuild trust back in our systems and our society.”
According to Pivotal, a research firm, Facebook and Google made up 73 percent of all U.S. digital advertising last year.
But the companies have seen their fair share of backlash, particularly in the wake of the 2016 presidential campaign, which brought a proliferation of fake news to the sites.
During the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last month, British Prime Minister Theresa May called on investors to pressure tech companies to address sexual harassment, fake news, hate speech, and other damaging content.
Facebook and Google have already taken steps to combat the spread of fake news and extremist content.