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Unilever pulls adverts from Facebook over hate speech inaction

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Unilever is halting US advertising on Facebook and Twitter for the rest of the year. Photo: Chris Ison/PA

Unilever is halting US advertising on Facebook and Twitter for the rest of the year. Photo: Chris Ison/PA

Unilever is halting US advertising on Facebook and Twitter for the rest of the year. Photo: Chris Ison/PA

UNILEVER has said it will halt US advertising on Facebook and Twitter for the rest of the year, citing hate speech and polarised politics as the key reasons for its decision.

Unilever's products include Dove soap, Surf detergent and Ben & Jerry's ice-cream. It joins other firms including US telecoms provider Verizon and clothing brand Patagonia in pulling advertising from some of the world's largest social media platforms due to their inaction over hate speech.

"Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society," Unilever said in an emailed statement. "We will be monitoring ongoing and will revisit our current position if necessary."

Facebook shares fell as much as 7.3pc, while those in Twitter fell 8.2pc.

Facebook has been telling advertisers that it bases its policies on principles, not business interests, according to its communications with marketers. The company has been reaching out to advertisers to discuss its recent initiatives on registering voters and distributing verified election information.

Verizon has said it is pausing the placement of ads on Facebook and Instagram until the social networks can get better control over posts that spread disinformation.

"We have strict content policies in place and have zero tolerance when they are breached, we take action," Verizon's chief media officer John Nitti said in a statement. "We're pausing our advertising until Facebook can create an acceptable solution that makes us comfortable and is consistent with what we've done with YouTube and other partners."

Verizon is one of the largest advertisers to pull its Facebook ads as part of an effort by civil rights organisations to pressure the social media company to take action on hate speech and misleading content.

Rights groups including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and Color of Change started the campaign, called Stop Hate For Profit, to encourage advertisers to boycott Facebook ads in July.

"We applaud Verizon for joining this growing fight against hate and bigotry by pausing their advertising on Facebook's platforms, until they put people and safety over profit," said Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of ADL.

US lawmakers have also put pressure on Facebook, Twitter and Google.

Bloomberg

Irish Independent