Friday 14 June 2019 5:01 pm

Marketers threaten to cut social media spend unless tech giants crack down on online harm

Social media firms risk losing advertising revenue from UK businesses unless they do more to protect users on their platforms, marketers have warned.

The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) said businesses needed to “carefully consider”  whether they should continue to advertise on social media sites due to the failure to remove harmful material.

Read more: Online harms proposals will damage UK tech sector, tech giants warn

The government has unveiled plans to crack down on the growing problem of online harms, and social media firms could face fines if they fail to properly police material posted to their platforms.

But the latest warning suggests the companies could also face heavy financial losses from reduced advertising if they fall foul of their responsibilities.

Marketing and advertising is a key source of income for social media firms. Roughly 98 per cent of Facebook’s $16.9bn (£13.3bn) fourth-quarter revenue last year came from advertising.

“As professional marketers we need to carefully consider whether social media is the right place for us to use our marketing and advertising budgets,” Mocky Khan, London chair of CIM, told City A.M.

“In the UK alone our members and the wider marketing community invested nearly $52bn across digital marketing platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, and globally marketing spend accounts for the majority of these digital firms revenues. As marketers we trust and expect them to share our work in a responsible manner with the public.”

A report published by CIM highlighted the extent of harmful material found on social media sites, with just under half of teenagers stating they had seen harmful content on social media.

Yet two-thirds of those who have seen inappropriate content said they either rarely or never report the posts, highlighting the need for the tech firms to identify and remove harmful content themselves.

Read more: Tech firms urged to work with government in online harms battle

While internet companies have acknowledged the need for change, many have warned the government’s proposals are unclear and could harm the tech sector.

The Internet Association, which represents online firms including Google, Facebook and Twitter, has called for greater clarity over what constitutes an online harm and a more precise definition of the proposed regulation.