Newsquest’s chief executive has urged Unilever to back the regional press after the multinational threatened to pull advertising from platforms spreading “fake news”.
Henry Faure Walker has called on the corporation to spend its money away from social media, citing the regional press industry’s 1XL digital advertising platform as an example.
Unilever – whose brands include Marmite, Dove and Ben & Jerry’s – is concerned about the spread of illegal and extremist content online.
Its marketing chief Keith Weed has met with Facebook, Google, Twitter, Snap and Amazon, to stress that Unilever does “not want to advertise on platforms which do not make a positive contribution to society”.
He said: “We cannot continue to prop up a digital supply chain – one that delivers over a quarter of our advertising to our consumers – which at times is little better than a swamp in terms of its transparency.
“Fake news, racism, sexism, terrorists spreading messages of hate, toxic content directed at children – parts of the internet we have ended up with is a million miles from where we thought it would take us.”
Unilever cited research showing that trust in social media has hit a new low as a result of failed action over misleading or unlawful content.
Henry responded to Mr Weed in a post on the business networking site LinkedIn.
He said: “If Unilever is genuinely committed to ‘only advertising in responsible platforms that create a positive impact in society’, I give you local news brands: 1XL now reaching over 24 million UK adults a month through trusted local media. Let’s talk.”
1XL, the national digital advertising partnership set up by regional publishers, coffers advertising on 800 local news websites across the UK.