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Unilever gives stern warning to Google and Facebook

UnileverUnilever has fired a warning shot at tech firms that fail to counter fake news and fraud online, threatening to pull lucrative advertising if companies allow their platforms to “breed division”.

The tech firms include Google and Facebook. The multinational giant announced its plans at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Annual Leadership Meeting in California on Monday.

“We cannot continue to prop up a digital supply chain – one that delivers over a quarter of our advertising to our consumers – which at times is little better than a swamp in terms of its transparency,” chief marketing officer Keith Weed said.

“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.”

“We fully support Unilever’s commitments and are working closely with them,” Will Easton, MD, Facebook Australia and New Zealand told Inside FMCG.

According to AAP, Weed met with Unilever’s partners including Facebook, Google, Twitter, Snap and Amazon, to emphasise it “do not want to advertise on platforms which do not make a positive contribution to society”. The company is also concerned on how illegal content is impacting public perception of brands.

“Consumers don’t care about third party verification. They do care about fraudulent practice, fake news, and Russians influencing the US election. They don’t care about good value for advertisers. But they do care when they see their brands being placed next to ads funding terror, or exploiting children,” Weed added.

It has also been reported that Google has recently come under fire from companies due to their ads being shown alongside objectionable videos on YouTube. While Facebook has faced criticism for fake news, filter bubbles, foreign election meddling and social media addiction.

“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,” Weed told CNN. “The year where we collectively rebuild trust back in our systems and our society.”

According to The Guardian, last year Procter & Gamble, the owner of Pantene and Pampers,  issued a similar warning prior to cutting $100m of digital ad spend without any negative impact on sales.

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