Why some firms are turn­ing away from Face­book & Google

Irish Daily Mirror - - NEWS - Gra­ham.his­cott@mir­ror.co.uk


One of the most se­ri­ous claims against so­cial me­dia gi­ants is they al­low the spread of vile con­tent.

Cam­paign­ers say web­sites owned by Google and Face­book have been used to pro­mote at­tacks and are a re­cruit­ing ground for mil­i­tant groups such as Is­lamic State.

The firms in­sist they re­move the con­tent as soon as pos­si­ble.

Yet posts and videos con­tain­ing graphic im­ages and threats of vi­o­lence are still com­mon­place.

Seven in 10 peo­ple say in­ter­net firms are not do­ing enough to tackle the prob­lem.

The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion has told so­cial me­dia firms to find ways to re­move such con­tent faster, in­clud­ing au­to­matic de­tec­tion tech­nolo­gies, or face pos­si­ble leg­is­la­tion forc­ing them to do so.


Cow­ardly users of so­cial me­dia are able to anony­mously tar­get their vic­tims with ob­scene and of­ten threat­en­ing mes­sages.

TV pre­sen­ter Katie Price, above, re­cently high­lighted the im­pact of trolling when she called for it to be made a crim­i­nal of­fence.

The ex-glam­our model upped the ante af­ter so­cial me­dia at­tacks on her dis­abled son Har­vey, 15.

She said the teenager, who is blind and has a range of health prob­lems, is con­stantly tar­geted.

Katie told MPS on the Com­mons Pe­ti­tions Com­mit­tee the law had failed to keep up with the chang­ing use of tech­nol­ogy.


Even one of Face­book’s found­ing mem­bers has warned of its dan­gers.

Sean Parker said late last year: “God only knows what it’s do­ing to our chil­dren’s brains.”

Where once Face­book, Google, Youtube and oth­ers were seen as a tool for kids to bet­ter un­der­stand the world, now they are seen as mak­ing them screen ad­dicts.

The threat from in­ap­pro­pri­ate con­tent adds a whole new, and ex­tremely wor­ry­ing, di­men­sion. Adults, too,


One of the big claims of so­cial me­dia com­pa­nies is they cre­ate com­mu­ni­ties.

While un­doubt­edly true, oth­ers say they are also fu­elling divi­sion and re­sent­ment.

For­mer Face­book ex­ec­u­tive Chamath Pal­i­hapi­tiya said he feels “tremen­dous guilt” that the web­site is “rip­ping apart the so­cial fab­ric of how so­ci­ety works”.

Pro-brexit tweets from Rus­sian-linked ac­counts in 48 hours be­fore vote

Per­cent­age of Brits who say web firms fail­ing to tackle ex­treme con­tent

Av­er­age num­ber of times a day smart­phone users check Face­book

Pounds Proc­ter & Gam­ble slashed its dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing by


The threat from Unilever and oth­ers comes amid a wider shift in ad­ver­tis­ing. In the past few years there has been a rapid rise in firms ad­ver­tis­ing on­line, help­ing turn Google and Face­book into some of the big­gest firms on the planet.

But firms are be­gin­ning to cut back. Proc­ter & Gam­ble, for in­stance, re­duced its dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing by €70mil­lion in three months and did not lose sales.

Unilever, too, has warned it is slash­ing its mar­ket­ing bud­get.

In­dus­try ex­perts En­ders Anal­y­sis said: “There is now start­ing to be a change from the past when advertisers would go to their agen­cies and open the con­ver­sa­tion by say­ing some­thing like, ‘Our strat­egy is to spend 30% on Face­book video’. That is not strat­egy.

“With on­line ad­ver­tis­ing there’s been a dan­ger of brands fol­low­ing each other, rather than tak­ing a mo­ment to find out what’s best for their unique sit­u­a­tion.”

Ro­nan Stafford, an an­a­lyst at ex­perts Glob­al­data, said: “Fur­ther ac­tive mea­sures will need to be taken to re­pair the frac­tured re­la­tion­ship be­tween advertisers, con­tent cre­ators, and view­ers.’


Some web­sites are just not seen as cool any­more. Fig­ures show young­sters are ditch­ing Face­book, for ex­am­ple, with its pop­u­lar­ity soar­ing among over-55s.

This year, some 700,000 fewer 12 to 24-year-olds will reg­u­larly use the web­site than in 2017.

Bill Fisher of emar­keter, be­hind the re­search, said: “Face­book has a teen prob­lem.” Face­book-owned In­sta­gram is help­ing plug the gap among younger con­sumers.

But the largest growth among this age group is through mes­sag­ing site Snapchat. Mean­while, Twit­ter’s user num­bers flat­lined in the fi­nal three months of last year.


An­other prob­lem for so­cial me­dia firms is their track record on taxes. Re­ports of use of clever ac­count­ing to min­imise pay­ments has left a bad taste in the mouth for many. The EU is press­ing ahead with plans to re­write tax rules to stop such prac­tices.

DIG­I­TAL TURN-OFF Web gi­ants face chal­leng­ing times ahead

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