Unilever, P&G, NBCUniversal, Twitter, Facebook and more join to fight ‘unsafe’ content

When industry challenges spill into society, creating division and putting our children at risk, it’s on all of us to act,’ Unilever’s vice president of global media said.

As social media platforms struggle to police and banish extremist content and hate speech, marketing partners are stepping in to help.

On Tuesday, the formation of the Global Alliance for Responsible Media was announced during advertisers’ annual Cannes Lions festival. The goal of the coalition is to protect consumers and marketing partners from “unsafe” content.

The Wall Street Journal reported:

“We wanted to go from a position of chasing down breaches in a reactive way to a much more proactive dialogue and concrete steps that are going to drive industry change,” said Rob Rakowitz, the head of global media at Mars Inc., one of the members.

The group has an impressive amount of organizations involved, including Google, Omnicom, Unilever, General Mills, Publicis, Nestle, Verizon, P&G, Mondelez, NBCUniversal, Mastercard, Adidas, Twitter and Facebook.

A press release published by Unilever said:

With nearly 3.8 billion people online, the world is increasingly connected, and yet the increase in dangerous, hateful, disruptive and fake content online risks threatening our global community. Members of the Global Alliance for Responsible Media recognize the role that advertisers can play in collectively pushing to improve the safety of online environments. Together, they are collaborating with publishers and platforms to do more to address harmful and misleading media environments; and to develop and deliver against a concrete set of actions, processes and protocols for protecting brands.

These advertisers, media agencies and social media platforms are joining associations such as ANA, Interactive Advertising Bureau and the Mobile Marketing Association to help make their lofty goal a reality.

Though the group’s purpose is still largely undefined, the organizations involved were quick to point out the importance of cleaning up controversial content and hate speech, promising to brainstorm ideas and plan actions.

Unilever said in its press release:

An immediate focus will be to form and empower an inclusive working group charged with developing a set of initial ideas and prioritizing next steps. This is the first time an alliance that represents all sides of the media industry is forming, underpinned by a working group committed to meeting regularly and reporting back on its progress to members and the industry.

Adweek reported:

The number of names involved is the most significant aspect of this effort, which builds on the Global Media Charter released by the World Federation of Advertisers during last year’s Cannes festival.

“If you want to walk fast, you can go it alone, but if you want to walk far, we do it together,” said Luis Di Como, executive vice president of global media at Unilever. Diageo global digital director of marketing Isabel Massey added that, while this topic has already sparked multiple talks and initiatives in recent years, “we want to have one conversation” involving all relevant industry players.

Increased hate speech and controversial content has forced marketers to take a role in fighting for better policies and procedures, lest they risk alienating consumers when their ads run alongside this content.

The Wall Street Journal reported:

Digital advertising will make up more than half of global ad sales for the first time this year, according to the latest forecast by ad-buying group Magna Global USA Inc., part of the Interpublic Group of Co s.

But social-media platforms have been tarred by repeated revelations that they are hosting political disinformation and malicious content. In one of the most recent examples, AT&T Inc., Clorox Co. , Nestlé SA, McDonald’s Corp. and “Fortnite” publisher Epic Games Inc. paused or halted their YouTube advertising in February following reports that viewers were making inappropriate comments on videos of young girls. YouTube later suspended comments on most videos that feature minors.

Social media platforms have also come under criticism for policies that some have labeled confusing. Others have lashed out at the companies for not doing enough to silence harassment.

Now, consumers are looking to the organizations that rely on these platforms for advertising.

AdAge reported:

… [S]ome of the alliance’s media members have been called out plenty of late for being less than responsible.

The New York Times in recent weeks has done deep dives into how YouTube’s algorithms help lead people down the video rabbit holes of pedophilia and far-right extremism.

… In a Monday panel held by MediaLink, a unit of Cannes owner Ascential, John Gerzema, CEO of the Harris Poll, said Facebook’s ratings on “trust and respect” plummeted 43 percentage points in the past year in the firm’s brand reputation tracking survey amid bad press on brand safety and privacy issues. “It actually fell faster than Wells Fargo,” Gerzema said. “It’s the biggest fall for a brand in the 20 years of our data.”

But he said the poll also found people hold brands twice as responsible for the content surrounding ads as they hold media companies, putting more pressure on advertisers.

Several organizations involved in the alliance have already spoken out against “unsafe” content.

AdAge reported:

Gerry D’Angelo, global media director of P&G, says, “For far too long, issues with trust in our industry have been managed one conversation at a time. Now for the first time, the formation of this alliance is an opportunity to harness our collective efforts for the greater good.”

“When industry challenges spill into society, creating division and putting our children at risk, it’s on all of us to act,” Di Como said.

What do you think of the move, PR Daily readers?

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