The proliferation of harmful content on social media has been a major point of concern for advertisers around the world. In July this year, more than 1,000 brands boycotted Facebook, YouTube and Twitter for their poor handling of hateful content. That move led to the big social media companies and the world federation of advertisers striking a deal to allow external audits and implement common standards to deal with harmful content.
We have seen two major brands - Bajaj Auto and Parle go public with their decision to stop advertsising on channels, which according to them, carry toxic content.
To add to the woes of both advertisers and broadcasters, there are allegations of TRP fixing linked to 3 channels, a matter currently under investigation.
In conversation with Shereen Bhan a veteran ad man, and long-time India observer, Martin Sorrell, CEO of S4 Capital said, “Issues about taking a position on social issues, or ethical issues or moral issues make sense. But we careful what you wish for because we all deal in very varied communities, those communities have open access now to social media.”
“The nature of the technology is so pervasive now that the power of these social platforms are considerable. These positions have to be thought through and you probably have to be prepared to take some flak from parts of the community that may not necessarily agree with the position you are taking.”
He further added, “You have to be prepared for the downside as well as the upside. Overall taking a position is to be welcomed. I think brands, consumers and people - all stakeholders whether people work in company, government, all forms of stakeholders, all welcome in one way or another, companies and brands and operations taking a stand, so on balance to be welcomed, but there are pitfalls.”
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