Speed Reads

fake news backlash

Unilever will cut back on advertising if Facebook, YouTube don't do more to combat divisive content

One of the world's largest advertisers plans on cutting back its ad spending on platforms like YouTube and Facebook unless they work harder to stop the spread of fake news and hate speech.

Per prepared remarks obtained by The Wall Street Journal on Sunday, Unilever Chief Marketing Officer Keith Weed is expected to make the announcement Monday at the Interactive Advertising Bureau's annual leadership meeting in California. "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," Weed will say. "We will prioritize investing only in responsible platforms that are committed to creating a positive impact in society."

Facebook has been criticized for allowing Russian agents to spread false information meant to divide Americans during the 2016 presidential election, while YouTube has faced a backlash for running ads on videos that promote hate and racism. Weed told the Journal he wants to work privately with these platforms to come up with solutions to these problems, and he believes other companies whose advertising dollars keep these sites running need to push them to change as well. "One can start by not putting ads on content we do not want to encourage," he said. Per the company's annual report, Unilever spent $9.4 billion in marketing its diverse brands, including Dove and Lipton, in 2017.