Unilever, manufacturer of such popular products as Dove cleanser and Lipton Tea, has warned Facebook and Google that it will cut its advertising from those platforms unless they do more to halt the proliferation of fake news, hate speech and other divisive content.
Unilever is a giant advertiser, spending more than $9 billion in 2017 to market its products and services.
As reported by CNBC News, Keith Weed, chief marketing officer at Unilever, stated:
“We need to redefine what is responsible business in the digital age because for all of the good the tech companies are doing, there’s some unintended consequences that now need addressing. … Consumers don’t care about third party verification. They do care about fraudulent practice, fake news, and Russians influencing the U.S. 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 reportedly delivered these remarks at the Interactive Advertising Bureau, blaming the social networks for fake news and illegal content that jeopardize democracy.
Google is dedicating some 10,000 employees to monitor and delete divisive content on YouTube. Facebook is using artificial intelligence to do the same.
Interpersonal Divide in the Age of the Machine has covered this troubling phenomenon for several months, noting that social media are doing too little to ban racist, sexist and divisive content.
See these recent posts:
- Violence, Bias, Hate: What Algorithms Miss and Why You Should Care.
- “Smart Mobs” Sowing Division in the United States.
- Algorithms, Evil & Augmented Reality: The Desensitization of Facebook Users.
In the end, more advertisers must do as Unilever has done, threatening the bottom line of social networks to ensure a safer experience for individuals, communities and our country.
Failing that, it is up to users to make a difference, deciding whether to patronize these interactive mega-companies that earn billions each year … often at our expense.
We provide the content; they datamine the content, selling that to vendors; and then base advertisements on our algorithms.
Interpersonal Divide in the Age of the Machine discusses that phenomenon in several chapters. Here’s an excerpt on the profits of Facebook, Google and other platforms that operate on what users post:
Users believe that they are accessing digital services for free, when they are not, because the consumer data they provide has value; moreover, users are providing free content, so the corporation doesn’t have to. … As such, billions of users worldwide may been seen as exploited workers who spend hours each day allowing their personal information to be mined and sold and who provide content that engages others and generates more data for profit-minded creators and stockholders of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and other popular venues.
As such, you can make a difference in what, when and why you post information about yourself and the impact of that on your life at home, school and work.