Vodafone blocks advertising on hate speech and 'fake news' websites

James Pearce
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UK-based Vodafone has said it will stop ads running on sites that promote content "at odds" with its values

Vodafone has launched a crackdown on ‘fake news” and extremist material which will prevent its branding from appearing next to material that is “fundamentally at odds” with its “values… as a company”. 

The UK-based mobile operator is believed to spend around £400 million on digital advertising annually, according to the Telegraph, said outlets it advertises through will only be able to appear on outlets pre-approved as highly unlikely to feature hate speech. 

Vodafone took direct aim at social media giants Google and Facebook as it announced its new whitelist-based approach to digital advertising. 

“The advertising industry and digital advertising providers such as Google and Facebook have developed automated advertising technologies that use algorithms to deliver digital advertising to targeted demographic categories of internet user, serving ads dynamically within individual websites and social media channels as those users browse,” it said in a press release. 

 “While automated advertising is a powerful tool – allowing advertisers to focus their investment on specific market segments across almost all digital properties – in a small minority of instances it can also lead to unintended and potentially harmful outcomes including advertising appearing next to offensive content.” 

Vodafone said it spends more than £750 million per year on advertising, but will now use content controls implemented by WPP.  

The move comes as several politicians in the UK have questioned the role social media companies play in acting as “safe spaces” for terrorists. Prime Minister Theresa May has warned she will introduce new powers to curb these so-called safe spaces. 

“Vodafone has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion; we also greatly value the integrity of the democratic processes and institutions that are often the targets of purveyors of fake news,” 

Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao said. “We will not tolerate our brand being associated with this kind of abusive and damaging content."