After the Christchurch shooting was allowed to livestream on Facebook and subsequently spread across social media, governments around the world have put pressure on big tech companies to answer for it. Now, it seems advertisers have lost their patience and are calling for companies to present solid plans for change.
Recently, Mastercard’s CMO and president of the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) Raja Rajamannar called on the group to put pressure on tech companies to prevent platforms from being “hijacked by those with malicious intent,” as reported by CNBC.
The WFA is a massive player in the marketing world. The group — whose buying power nears a trillion — contains members like PepsiCo, P&G, and Diageo.
Rajamannar says the call is about more than just a “brand safety issue.” In an interview with CNBC, he explained, “It’s a societal safety issue, and as marketers we have a responsibility to society.”
Rajamannar also told CNBC:
“Do you want live streaming of a shooting happening? You definitely don’t want that. There is some tangible action that is happening. Is it adequate? No. And should it be expedited? Yes…We are saying, ‘Show us the game plan.’ We want to see the game plan clearly.”
Tech companies and advertisers have an interesting relationship because they both need each other more than most people realize. Most social media sites — like Twitter and Facebook — are free, so ads are how companies make money. For example, Facebook’s ad revenue for the final quarter of 2018 came in at $16.6 billion.
However, that doesn’t mean advertisers have all the power in the relationship. Social media platforms contain a massive audience, so advertisers tend to come back even if they leave. This was seen recently when Nestle, Disney, and other companies temporarily pulled ads from YouTube over child exploitation concerns.
Back in March, the WFA also called for pressure to be put on social media platforms. The organization called on its members to “think carefully about where they place advertising.” They also supported the Association of New Zealand Advertisers (ANZA), who asked for Facebook to be held accountable for its livestream of the event.
The United States consistently fails to actually regulate big tech or hold its executives accountable. But money talks, and if the WFA escalates any further, then tech companies may be forced to change.