The world’s second largest advertiser, Unilever, is set to make a stand over online safety and pledge not to invest in any platforms which “create divisions in society”.
The Anglo-Dutch consumer goods company spends billions of pounds promoting products including Persil, Dove, Pot Noodle, PG Tips and Marmite.
Unilver’s chief marketing officer Keith Weed will make a speech later calling on the tech industry to win back the trust of the public.
He will say it has been eroded by “a perceived lack of focus by technology companies on stopping illegal, unethical and extremist behaviour and material on their platforms”.
Unilever will commit to pulling investment from any platforms that do not do enough to protect children or crack down on “fake news, racism, sexism and terrorists spreading messages of hate”.
“As one of the largest advertisers in the world, we cannot have an environment where our consumers don’t trust what they see online,” Mr Weed will say.
“It is critical that our brands remain not only in a safe environment, but a suitable one.
“Unilever, as a trusted advertiser, do not want to advertise on platforms which do not make a positive contribution to society.”
He will add: “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.
Social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, have come under increased scrutiny for their perceived reluctance to tackle ‘fake news’ stories, which are often dressed up as fact.
The problem became a big issue after the election of Donald Trump amid reports Russian intelligence agencies used such stories to influence voters.
Google has also faced controversy over the placement of advertisements on its search results pages and on video platform YouTube, with several companies pulling their investment after discovering their products being promoted alongside extremist or exploitative content.
Facebook has responded to criticism over fake news with measures such as using fact checking services, removing financial incentives for spammers and providing related articles to give context to a story.
(c) Sky News 2018: Unilever warns tech companies it could pull adverts from ‘unsafe’ sites