Tech gi­ants agree new hate speech rules with ad­ver­tis­ers

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Technology Intelligen­ce - By Matthew Field

THE world’s top ad­ver­tis­ers have de­clared a truce with tech­nol­ogy gi­ants, agree­ing to new rules on re­port­ing and re­mov­ing hate speech con­tent across Face­book, YouTube and Twit­ter.

The deal comes three months af­ter Face­book was hit by an advertisin­g boy­cott in the wake of an­tiracism demon­stra­tions that fol­lowed the death of Ge­orge Floyd in po­lice cus­tody in the US.

The new rules, an­nounced by the World Fed­er­a­tion of Ad­ver­tis­ers (WFA), will set a “com­mon base­line” for harmful con­tent in­clud­ing hate speech, ag­gres­sion and bul­ly­ing across the three ma­jor so­cial net­works and give au­di­tors the author­ity to over­see the sys­tem from next year.

The deal will also see the tech gi­ants de­velop new tools so ad­ver­tis­ers can more eas­ily stop their ad­verts ap­pear­ing along­side images or videos they con­sider in­ap­pro­pri­ate. Un­til this agree­ment, mar­keters and tech­nol­ogy firms had many dif­fer­ent stan­dards for what they would class as hate speech.

The WFA said that prop­erly defin­ing on­line hate speech would re­move the cur­rent prob­lem of dif­fer­ent plat­forms us­ing their own def­i­ni­tions, which it said made it dif­fi­cult for com­pa­nies to de­cide where to put their ads.

Jac­qui Stephenson, head of re­spon­si­ble mar­ket­ing at Mars, said: “This is not a dec­la­ra­tion of vic­tory as there is much work to be done. Nev­er­the­less, this is an im­por­tant step in mak­ing so­cial me­dia a safer place for so­ci­ety.”

Over the sum­mer, tech gi­ants came un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure from ad­ver­tis­ers with more than 1,000 pulling spend­ing in July af­ter they de­manded more ac­tion over on­line hate speech.

While the boy­cott saw hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in ad spend frozen, it is thought to have had a lim­ited im­pact on the tech gi­ants’ toplines.

Luis Di Como, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of me­dia at Unilever, said: “This is a sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone in the jour­ney to re­build trust on­line. Whilst change doesn’t hap­pen overnight, to­day marks an im­por­tant step in the right di­rec­tion.”

Yes­ter­day, Carolyn Ever­son, Face­book’s vice-pres­i­dent for global mar­ket­ing so­lu­tions, said the agree­ment gave all par­ties “a uni­fied lan­guage to move for­ward on the fight against hate on­line”.

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