Unilever (UL) paused advertising on all three platforms in June, citing hate speech and the polarized atmosphere in the United States. On Thursday, the household goods giant said it would end the pause in January because of progress it said the platforms had made in cleaning up their act.
“Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have committed to concrete steps to further manage harmful content moving forward, including common definitions for 11 harmful content areas,” Unilever said in a statement.
Luis Di Como, Unilever’s executive vice president for Global Media, said the company was encouraged by the tech platforms’ commitments to building “healthier environments” in “alignment with the principles of the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM).”
The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) launched GARM as a forum for working with platforms to tackle hate speech and misinformation. The WFA recently negotiated a deal through GARM that will see the platforms adopt common definitions and reporting standards on harmful content such as hate speech.
As part of that agreement, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, owned by Google, agreed to allow outsiders to audit how they handle such content.
Reacting to the Unilever announcement, Facebook said: “We look forward to our continued partnership in 2021 and remain committed to our work with the Global Alliance for Responsible Media to fight harmful content online.”
Unilever, which spends billions of dollars each year on marketing for brands including Ben & Jerry’s and Dove, had given plenty of warning that its patience was wearing thin. In 2018, it warned it could pull advertising from digital platforms it said had become a “swamp” of fake news, racism, sexism and extremism.
The company’s stand against Facebook and Twitter knocked shares in both companies. Unilever was the 30th-highest spender on Facebook advertising in 2019, pouring more than $42 million into the platform, according to estimates by the advertising intelligence company Pathmatics.