Vodafone cracks down on hate speech and fake news advertising with new code of conduct

Oliver Gill
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Vodafone said it will establish a whitelist of sites it is happy to advertise on

Vodafone has banned its advertising from appearing on hate speech or fake news outlets worldwide.

The telecoms giant has updated its code of conduct to ensure its brand is not being marketed on websites that "are fundamentally at odds with their values and beliefs as a company".

Read more: Facebook, Google and Twitter could face €50m fines for fake news

Chief executive Vittorio Colao said: "We will not tolerate our brand being associated with this kind of abusive and damaging content.

Vodafone has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion; we also greatly value the integrity of the democratic processes and institutions that are often the targets of purveyors of fake news.

Historically, Vodafone's code of conduct has focused on safeguarding editorial independence. The new rules work on a "whitelist-based approach". Content controls will be implemented by a global agency network, led by WPP and including Google and Facebook.

Read more: Vodafone attempts to draw a line under a turbulent year

The upshot of the change in policy means Vodafone adverts will only be shown by outlets "highly unlikely to be focused on harmful content".

The whitelist will be reviewed by both Vodafone and its global agency partners on a regular basis to ensure it is "neither too broad nor too narrow".

Vodafone's new code of conduct

Vodafone, third parties acting on its behalf and its advertising platform suppliers (including, but not limited to, Google and Facebook) must take all measures necessary to ensure that Vodafone advertising does not appear within hate speech and fake news outlets.

Vodafone defines these as outlets whose predominant purpose is the dissemination of content that is:

  • Deliberately intended to degrade women or vulnerable minorities (“hate speech”); or
  • Presented as fact-based news (as opposed to satire or opinion) that has no credible primary source (or relies on fraudulent attribution to a primary source) with what a reasonable person would conclude is the deliberate intention to mislead (“fake news”)

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