Brands Must Ensure That Tech Giants Act Responsibly

The World Federation of Advertisers has come out with a very strong message today. In stark contrast to Eric Schmidt appearing on "Newsnight" earlier this week to offer legal answers to counter accusations of Google's breaking its moral code, the WFA has shifted the debate straight back to ethics.

Advertising giants, the body insists, have a moral duty to look beyond the monetary aspects of their business. At the same time, the Association added, brands have the power to hold them to that moral position, presumably through the massive budgets they send their way.

The message was clear. Politicians are beginning to take a moral stand around the duty of care the tech giants should adhere to. Brands should make sure -- through the power of their budgets -- that this is adhered to.

The statement comes as Facebook announced it will ban those who break its rules from live streaming. It is a clear response to what must have been Facebook's worst nightmare -- a terrorist live streaming an attack on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

It's the kind of scenario one could only imagine being dreamt up by the creator of the excellent "Black Mirror" tv series. The problem is that this really happened.

Sometimes, big announcements come at a timely moment. In addition to the Christchurch outrage we also have today, Tommy Robinson being told he must face another trial regarding allegations he took videos outside a court in Leeds that could be deemed as intimidatory to those involved in the case.

It's a very clear rule in the UK. When a judge sits on a case, it is literally 'sub judice' and can only be reported on with his or her permission. What is even more clear is that identifying jurors, defendants and witnesses is also illegal. Chasing them around with a video camera inciting people to find out more about a defendant is so beyond what the law allows that it is laughable anyone would consider it a proper way to push a right-wing agenda.

Regardless, Tommy Robinson got off on a technicality, after being convicted and serving part of his sentence. He is now going to face another trial because a judge believes his actions have been so alarming that they need to be heard and dealt with properly in a court of law. 

Banning troublemakers such as Tommy Robinson and terrorists such as the Christchurch killer from live streaming is a step in the right direction. Although no reasoning is given, it is being reported that the rule would have stopped the video of the anti-Muslim attacks going live. 

So it's a start. The big message today, from the WFA, is that it may not be enough in itself -- and brands need to hold the big platforms to account and they need to do this both verbally and monetarily. 

1 comment about "Brands Must Ensure That Tech Giants Act Responsibly".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, May 15, 2019 at 10:30 a.m.

    It's unrealistic to expect advertisers to act in unison to police bad actors in digital media by trimming or reducing their ad spending on such sites. The only way to organize this is by governmental regulation. Such a move---which is long past due---will, no doubt add to our problems as the Feds and the states are often heavy handed and politically motivated in their actions. But, sadly, this seems the only way out.

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