Google needs to reflect, Governmental attack on online liberty, upcoming guest editors, 50 under 30 round table: Editor's Overview

Stephen Lepitak

The Drum editor, Stephen Lepitak offers his weekly take on some stories and events from the past week and highlights a few things ahead for The Drum.

Google's time to reflect

Last week we saw the headlines around Google's ad misplacement on YouTube kick into top gear with several major brands pausing their spend and mass media attempting to claim that the tech giant was somehow funding terrorists as a result. This was damning headline news despite a lack of any real outcry from the general public and the fact anyone writing about Google has been highlighting this problem for years now. News International had an agenda and the Daily Mail and even the BBC followed their lead in kicking Google while it was temporarily down.

It is Google's fault that it has been so slow to respond, opening itself up to huge criticism. A few weeks ago I was shocked with how easily I could find content that could be considered extreme and inappropriate for the site - Google can continue to argue that because it uploads 400 hours of content a minute that it is impossible to police - but there are elements of video it could easily have discovered and banned - especially when you consider how it enforces IP protection through its community. You can't tell me that with more resources, some more AI development and some extra common sense this whole issue couldn't have been avoided. The company should take a moment to reflect why it took this controversy and advertisers disdain to simply do the right thing. But, at least now, it is seemingly ready to realise its errors and resolve them. About time too.

What terrorism means to tech

I watched with interest the UK's Home Secretary Amber Rudd's response to Wednesday's terrorist attack in London on Andrew Marr's Sunday programme as she followed the lead of every politician after they face difficult times, and once again government has aimed to erode people's personal privacy online. Her call to end encryption through services such as Whatsapp, which it is claimed was used by the killer directly before the attack, is typical government policy - end privacy to help us combat atrocity. But I don't believe such a line should be so easily drawn between the two things. I am certain the government already knows a lot more about us all than we know (sorry to sound like a crazy conspiracy theorist) but isn't the erosion of civil liberty exactly what these attacks aim to achieve? They want to spread fear, create division and change western culture. That includes taking away freedoms that society expects.

As a journalist I know I have some freedom to talk to contacts in trust on Whatsapp when I need to. I'd rather not have the Government scare away such openness for one thing.

Encryption offers people and organisations the smallest glint of online privacy and should be fought for by those who can thwart taking it away. And while I really doubt that Mrs May wants to hear all the latest gossip from down the pub and will have particular targets in mind when it comes to online surveillance, we should still argue for what little privacy is left online.

50 Under 30 round table

Last week I was lucky enough to sit in on The Drum's lunch featuring many of our 50 women under 30 and the judges for this year's winners. The event took place upstairs at The Drum Arms pop up pub for Advertising Week Europe, where those attending discussed how they could help drive female parity in the industry.

Discussion included the reaction each received for being involved, how they saw themselves and their careers and how they could use the recognition to step forward and help others move forward too.

I wasn't surprised to hear how positive the conversation was overall, they were a group that could see futures for themselves in the industry, although each also shared moments of adversity they had had to face. As a result, I continue to feel confident that one day...eventually....parity can and will be achieved, although there will be many more lunches and events to be had before that is reality. Several weeks ago I called for action beyond conversation and I continue to take that line here - we need less talk and more action. We at The Drum will do our best to facilitate that - but we need the industry as a whole to work together rather than separate organisations attempting to make a difference on their own. Only through partnership and co-operation can we get there. But get there we will.

Coming Up this Week

This week we have two major announcements to make online about two guest editors for The Drum's global magazine over the coming four months. Both announcements, I think, involve individuals who will make people sit up and take notice for different reasons. We'll reveal all over the coming days so keep tabs on the homepage, our social media feeds or our newsletters to hear what we're up to.

On Wednesday we are supporting Innovation Stories, an event taking place at DigitasLBi that aims to explore insights around successful marketing innovation use cases. Speakers include; Kristen Bennie, head of open experience at RBS, Tracey Follows, chief strategy and innovation officer for The Future Laboratory, Nishma Robb, head of Ads Marketing at Google and Dan Efergen, creative director at Aardman amongst its heady line-up.

The following day, The Drum will run its annual business insights event, Agency Acceleration Day which offers tips and knowledge around driving success within marketing services communications businesses. More details on speakers, which includes an interview with bosses from Accenture and Karmarama on the future of the agency, hosted by yours truly.

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