Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has received plenty of criticism over the past couple of years about its inability to stop “fake news” and other objectionable content.
Until now, however, most of those complaints have come from politicians and journalists — not advertisers themselves.
But as CNN Money reports, that’s about to change, with Unilever threatening to pull its advertising from several digital platforms, including Facebook:
“We cannot continue to prop up a digital supply chain … which at times is little better than a swamp in terms of its transparency,” Unilever marketing boss Keith Weed will say, according to a copy of his speech obtained by CNN.
Unilever (UL), which owns brands including Dove, Lipton, and Ben & Jerry’s, is one of the world’s top advertisers. It has an annual marketing budget of roughly €8 billion ($9.8 billion), and 25% of its ads are digital.
Weed notes that the unchecked proliferation of questionable content on social media, when combined with a lack of protections for children, is hurting social trust. In turn, he believes these networks are harming users and even undermining democracies (no doubt a nod to the massive Russian ad-buying operation that helped throw the 2016 U.S. presidential election into chaos).
During his most damning passage, the executive says Facebook and other networks have become a “swamp” of fake news, racism, sexism, and extremism.
In summary, Unilever says it won’t advertise on platforms it believes create divisions in society, or fail to protect youngsters. Facebook said it’s working closely with Unilever to help fix things.
Facebook Inc shares fell $1.01 (-0.57%) in premarket trading Tuesday. Year-to-date, FB has declined -0.03%, versus a -0.57% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.