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Hate Speech Fake News United Nations

Conscious Advertising Network's UN address highlights need for ethical digital advertising


By Imogen Watson, Senior reporter

December 14, 2018 | 4 min read

Conscious Advertising Network's (CAN) co-founder Jake Dubbins has given an address to UN officials on the part that advertising plays in funding fake news and hate speech - particularly in regard to anti-immigration content.

Intergovernmental Conference on the Global Compact for Migration

Intergovernmental Conference on the Global Compact for Migration

During the UN's Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration Conference - which saw majority of UN States, including the UK, sign the first-ever international deal on the migration crisis – fake news and hate speech was addressed as a significant cause for hostile, anti-immigration standpoints.

The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres used his opening address to highlight the problem of fake news and to dispels myths regarding the agreement, and the overall issue of migration.

Following Guterres, Dubbins gave a speech on the part that advertising plays in funding hate speech and the spread of fake news online and the role CAN is trying to play in actively ensuring ethics catch up with the technology of modern advertising.

Of the $581bn that global advertising spend is predicted to hit in 2018, $222bn is spent on digital advertising. Dubbins remarked: "advertising funds the internet” and therefore, brands who advertise online through programmatic ad buying may inadvertently fund websites with hate speech rhetoric, he said.

Dubbins used the platform to call out a number of media publishers that dispel hate speech, including The Sun, The Express and Rebel Media, where former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson is a correspondent.

To demonstrate why the UN needs to work more closely with the media to combat hate speech, Dubbins referenced a The Sun article penned by provocateur Katie Hopkins (now also working for Rebel Media), where she described migrants as cockroaches.

Hopkins’ piece provoked the UN Human Rights Chief, Zeid Ra-ad Al Hussein, to respond by calling for media publishers to take a firmer line on racism and xenophobia.

Al Hussein said: “The Nazi media described people their masters wanted to eliminate as rats and cockroaches. This type of language is clearly inflammatory and unacceptable, especially in a national newspaper. The Sun’s editors took an editorial decision to publish this article, and - if it is found in breach of the law - should be held responsible along with the author.”

Noting the need to work alongside the UN on these matters, Dubbins said the UN could "help end advertising abuse, with full respect for freedom of speech."

Responding to objective 17 in the Global Compact - that states participating states must 'eliminate all forms of discrimination and promote evidence-based public discourse to shape perceptions of migration' - Dubbins detailed a number of “practical tools for implementing the principles."

He called upon the UN to "help ensure the ethics catch up with the technology of modern advertising, to help introduce the work of the CAN to business and advertisers and to encourage them to sign up to"

Organisations that have already partnered with CAN include, Accenture Interactive, The Body Shop, Merkle Periscopix, Creative Equals and Stop Funding Hate.

Hate Speech Fake News United Nations

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