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Unilever Threatens to Pull Ads from Google, Facebook "Swamp"

12 February 2018

Unilever, one of the world's largest advertisers, may stop buying advertising on social networks like Facebook or Google if these tech companies don't stop helping to spread hate speech and create divisions in society, according to a senior company executive.

Unilever is not investing in environments or platforms that are not protecting children or that are creating division in our society, and promoting hate or anger, he is planning to say.

In the speech, Weed will call on the technology industry to improve transparency and consumer trust in an era of fake news and "toxic" online content.

This is about "having a positive impact on society and whether we as a company want to engage with companies that are not committed to making a positive impact", Weed said in an interview.

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Unilever itself was heavily criticized previous year for a Dove advert on Facebook that many saw as racist.

Weed will say that a proliferation of objectionable content on social media - and a lack of protections for children - is eroding social trust, harming users and undermining democracies.

And in a direct attack on Facebook, which aims to verify third-party providers to try and clamp down on spreading of fake news, he will add: "Consumers don't care about third-party verification. They do care about fraudulent practice, fake news, and Russians influencing the US election", Weed plans to say. "But they do care when they see their brands being placed next to ads funding terror, or exploiting children".

Unilever has cut back on advertising as part of a cost-saving drive.

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Facebook and Google have dominated the online ad market for years, thanks to their massive reach and vast amounts of data.

MARKETING giant Unilever is threatening to pull adverts from Google and Facebook if they continue to promote hate and sow distrust. It also represents a shift in tone for Weed, who in the past year largely has played the good cop to rival Procter & Gamble Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard's bad cop on digital accountability issues. Only 25 percent of online ad spending reaches the consumer, with the rest skimmed off by a "murky, non-transparent, even fraudulent supply chain" within the industry, Pritchard told a digital marketing conference last autumn in Cologne, Germany.

"This is not something that can brushed aside or ignored", he will say in the speech.

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Unilever Threatens to Pull Ads from Google, Facebook