Faaez Samadi
Mar 27, 2019

WFA threatens social-media platforms with advertiser action

Group pledges support to Association of New Zealand Advertisers following Christchurch attacks.

People throw flowers on 24 March after attending an interfaith service in tribute to victims of the twin mosque shootings in Christchurch. (Anthony Wallace / AFP)
People throw flowers on 24 March after attending an interfaith service in tribute to victims of the twin mosque shootings in Christchurch. (Anthony Wallace / AFP)

The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) has put social networks on high alert by calling on brands worldwide to hold them to account over their failure to tackle dangerous and hateful content.

The statement was issued during WFA’s global marketer conference in Lisbon, being held this week. It explicitly expresses support for the Association of New Zealand Advertisers, which has called out Facebook and Google for their response to the livestreaming and sharing of video of the terrorist attack that killed 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch two weeks ago.

“This is not an issue of brand safety, this is a moral question to hold social media platforms to account—in the same way we do for traditional media,” said Lindsay Mouat, ANZA CEO.

As well as the Christchurch tragedy, WFA pointed to the paedophile comments left on YouTube videos of children, and the “glorification” of self-harm and suicide content on Instagram.

WFA global marketer conference in Lisbon this week

“All these platforms are funded by advertisers and as such those that make them profitable have a moral responsibility to consider more than just the effectiveness and efficiency they provide for brand messages,” the statement reads. “WFA’s call to action reflects the fact that these are not challenges that can be addressed by one country alone but need global action.” 

WFA corporate members and advertising association members collectively spend 90% of global marketing communications spend. While WFA said brands “must decide their own approaches”, it called for concerted action “as the funders of the online advertising system” to put pressure on social media platforms to tackle the issue of malicious content.

Stephan Loerke, WFA CEO, said: Marketers must reflect on the extent and terms on which they fund these platforms. Conversely, the platforms must do more to assuage the growing number of advertiser concerns. WFA is committed to working with the platforms in a constructive manner in order to find solutions to these grave problems.”

See also
Privacy regulation: We ain't seen nothin' yet
VIDEO: Stephan Loerke of the WFA discusses the impact of GDPR, the evolving use of agencies, the group's media charter, and the biggest issue people aren't talking about enough.

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