Unilever Gets Serious About the Fake News Crisis
Whether we like it or not, we are all in the midst of an unprecedented ‘fake news’ era. Shifting cultural and political tides have given rise to divisiveness and false reporting on the social media landscapes.
Trust is down, morale is low, and our faith in both branded and unbranded social media content is dwindling. The world’s top advertising companies have started to fight against the surge of misleading content shared on social media.
Just yesterday, Keith Weed, chief marketing head for Unilever, the world’s second largest advertiser, threatened to pull marketing spending from platforms that failed to take a stand against fake news and misleading content.
Later today, Weed will deliver a formal warning at an advertising conference to tech companies. His statement calls out those that have failed to take steps to combat fake content polluting social media. This new-found approach from the marketing boss is correlated to foreign election meddling. Primarily perpetuated by fake Russian accounts during the 2016 U.S. election season.
Social Media Platforms Scramble to Restore Reputation
Facebook, Google and Twitter have all come under fire for allowing fake political stories and bots to spread like wildfire across their platforms. Google is currently trying to clean house by cutting out the number of inaccurate news stories that pop up on the search engine results.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has not taken the criticism lightly and, after months of pressure, he rang in 2018 with a firm acknowledgement that Facebook is not the same social network it used to be. To promote meaningful engagement, he stated in a blog post that there would be changes to the site. He would be working diligently to repair the company’s reputation.
Shortly after this initial statement, Zuckerberg made another announcement in January that shook up the marketing world. Facebook users would start seeing more content from their friends and families and less public content from brands, businesses, and media. Zuckerberg mentioned that any branded content they would see would be of high quality and promote meaningful engagement.
For Unilever, owner of brands such as Ben & Jerry’s, Dove, Lynx, and Lipton, these strides made by Facebook and other social media platforms have not been strong enough to combat fake news in a permanent way. According to CNN, Weed will say at the conference,
“We cannot continue to prop up a digital supply chain… which at times is little better than a swamp in terms of its transparency.”
A Firm New Stance
Weed has stated that brands can no longer stand by while hateful content infiltrates social media platforms. Weed stated that Unilever would no longer do business with platforms that encourage divisions or fail to protect children. The advertising giant posted on platforms that are committed to changing their infrastructures from the inside out.
According to Unilever, Keith Weed will announce a partnership between the company and IBM to explore blockchain technology for advertising. Unilever has said that the tech has the “potential to drastically reduce advertising fraud by recording how media is purchased, delivered and interacted with by target audiences.”
The efforts to exorcise fake news from social media signifies a change in the way these platforms combat misleading content. It’s evident that Unilever and Keith Weed will not be tackling this issue sitting down. If social media giants like Facebook are serious about keeping Unilever on their side, they need to remedy their trust.