Unilever, one of the world’s biggest consumer goods companies, is threatening to remove all advertising from Google and Facebook’s platforms, citing factors like inclusion of “toxic online content” and the rise of “fake news.”
Co-headquartered in London and Rotterdam, the Netherlands, the conglomerate is unhappy with how these tech companies are being misused, and the purported lack of Facebook and Google trying to combat such exploitation.
“Unilever will not invest in platforms or environments that do not protect our children or which create division in society, and promote anger or hate,” Unilever Chief Marketing Officer Keith Weed is going to say Monday during an annual leadership meeting, according to a copy of his speech obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation. (The Wall Street Journal first reported on the speech). “We will prioritize investing only in responsible platforms that are committed to creating a positive impact in society.”
Facebook and Google dominate the digital advertising market, however, this could be a substantial hit for the two tech companies as Unilever owns a diverse number of brands popular in many countries around the world, from Dove, Axe, St. Ives and Vaseline, to Hellmann’s, Lipton, Klondike, Ben & Jerry’s and Bertolli.
It’s not yet clear if the company will ultimately rescind any marketing initiatives with Google and Facebook, which respectively own YouTube and Instagram, among other subsidiaries. Since Weed’s speech is informally titled “Unilever will not invest in online platforms that create division,” it serves as a stern warning for those that want its advertising business.
It also comes after months of Facebook and Google ostensibly taking “black eyes” in the public light. With terrorist utilization, fake news, and hate speech inevitably making its way on the platforms, many have complained that the companies aren’t doing enough to resolve these problems.
A number of people with insider information about Facebook, including former executives like Founding President Sean Parker, have come out to become sort of like a “conscientious objector,” listing their growing concerns with the effects of social media.
“It literally changes your relationship with society, with each other,” Parker said, according to Axios, reverberating a mindset made by many others. “It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”
Google, somewhat similarly, has faced a number of apparent embarrassments and controversies, like the firing of an engineer — who is now suing — almost purely based on his thoughts of forced ethnic and gender diversity in the workplace. Google was also peppered with protests after an analyst at the Google-funded think tank the New America Foundation was fired right after writing a brief analysis that was critical of the benefactor.
The examples of missteps for both of these companies, and Silicon Valley in general, are aplenty — although profits don’t seem to be taking a hit, at least yet. Weed’s serious and, for the most part, disapproving speech is yet another telling example of a potentially changing tide.
“2018 is either the year of tech-lash where the world turns on tech giants — and we have seen some of this already — or the year of trust,” Weed’s speech continues. “The year where we collectively rebuild trust back in our systems and our society.