Why some firms are turning away from Facebook & Google
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