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Unilever: Clean up web or we pull ads

UNILEVER has threatened to pull internet adverts unless web giants curb fake news and hate speech.

The owner of thousands of brands including Marmite, Persil and Ben & Jerry’s spends more than a quarter of its vast advertising budget on online platforms including social media.

But it said it ‘cannot continue to prop up the digital supply chain’ unless action is taken to clean up a sector that ‘at times is little better than a swamp’.

Chief marketing officer Keith Weed said: ‘Fake news, racism, sexism, terrorists spreading messages of hate, toxic content directed at children — parts of the internet are a million miles from where we thought it would take us. It is in the digital media industry’s interest to listen and act on this. Before viewers stop viewing, advertisers stop advertising.’

Mr Weed, who gave a speech on the issue to the Interactive Advertising Bureau in California yesterday, has met Facebook, Twitter and Google bosses to air his concerns. He said failure to monitor content could damage the reputation of advertisers, adding: ‘Consumers care when they see their brands being placed next to ads funding terror.’

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