Unilever takes a stand against malicious content on social media

Consumer goods giant Unilever has indicated it would consider no longer advertising on digital platforms that are not doing enough to clamp down on fake news or posts espousing hate.

Speaking at a conference in California, USA, Unilever chief marketing officer Keith Weed said “Unilever as a trusted advertiser does not want to advertise on platforms which do not make a positive contribution to society”. 

Weed said it’s the responsibility of the digital media sector to play an active part in combatting the content featuring fake news, racism, sexism, support for terrorist activity and other negative output that has become commonplace on social media.

He added that he wanted Unilever to “be part of the solution”. Speaking at the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting in Palm Desert, Weed drew attention to the detrimental effect the proliferation of this type of content on social media is having on consumers’ trust in online information.

“This is a deep and systematic issue of trust that fundamentally threatens to undermine the relationship between consumers and brands,” Weed said.

“Brands have to play their role in resolving it. As one of the largest advertisers in the world, Unilever cannot have an environment where our consumers don’t trust what they see online.”

Weed said that while Unilever does more than a quarter of its advertising online, digital media is at times “little better than a swamp in terms of its transparency”. He added that this development is something consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about:

“Consumers don’t care about good value for advertisers, but they do care when they see their brands placed next to ads funding terror or exploiting children. 

Continuing to say that “social media should build social responsibility,” Weed made three commitments on behalf of Unilever and its relationship with its “digital supply chain”.

He said: “Firstly, Unilever will not invest in platforms or environments that do not protect our children or which create division in society and promote anger or hate. “Secondly, Unilever is committed to creating responsible content, tackling gender stereotypes in advertising.

“Finally, Unilever will only partner with organisations which are committed to creating better digital infrastructure, such as aligning around one measurement system and improving the consumer experience”.

Unilever’s extensive portfolio of brands across a range of categories include professional skincare brands Dermalogica and Murad.