Tuesday 18 June 2019 10:09 am

Social media firms team up with advertisers to fight online harms

Social media giants including Facebook and Google have formed a new alliance with brands and ad agencies in a bid to crack down on harmful material online.

A total of 16 brands, including Unilever, Diageo and Procter & Gamble, have signed up to a new working group that will lobby publishers and platforms to remove harmful and misleading content and “rapidly improve” digital safety.

Read more: Marketers threaten to cut social media spend unless tech giants crack down on online harms

Founded by the World Federation of Advertisers, the so-called Global Alliance for Responsible Media also includes agencies such as WPP, Publicis and Omnicom, alongside Facebook, Google and Twitter.

The industry-wide initiative, which was unveiled at Cannes Lions festival, comes amid growing concern that the quantity of harmful, extreme and fake material online is damaging trust in advertising.

Earlier this year a string of major brands such as Nestle and Disney pulled advertising from Youtube following claims their adverts appeared alongside child exploitation videos.

“For far too long, issues with trust in our industry have been managed one conversation at a time,” said Gerry D’Angelo, global media director at Procter & Gamble.

“Now for the first time, the formation of this alliance is an opportunity to harness our collective efforts for the greater good.”

The new group has pledged to meet regularly and report back on its progress to the industry. The first meeting is scheduled to take place tomorrow in Cannes.

The alliance marks the latest effort by social media firms to demonstrate their commitment to tackling the problem of online harms amid growing calls for regulation.

The government has unveiled plans for a new regulator with powers to fine or even ban internet firms if they fail to properly police the material posted to their platforms.

Last week the Chartered Institute of Marketing warned brands should “carefully consider” whether they should continue to advertise on social media.

Read more: Health groups urge social media firms to end tobacco influencer marketing

Carolyn Everson, Facebook’s vice president of global marketing solutions, said: “I applaud and support the leadership of the alliance for this collaboration to do more for the people we serve.

“We are resolute in our commitment to provide a safe community, and we know we can’t do this alone.”