Investors in advertising giant Omnicom and the home improvement retailer Home Depot are calling for investigations into whether the companies may have paid for digital ads that appeared alongside hate speech and misinformation.
Resolutions have been filed by both groups of shareholders calling for independent investigations to look into whether advertising policies “contribute to the spread of hate speech, disinformation, white supremacist activity, or voter suppression efforts”.
- The resolutions make clear investors consider advertisers cannot distance themselves from the context in which they advertise. “Advertisers are not passive bystanders when they inadvertently finance harm,” the resolutions said. “Their spending influences what content appears online.”
- Companies are now believed to spend over half their global advertising dollars on digital platforms, where ads are mostly placed using algorithms with no oversight of the content alongside which they may appear.
- Recent research revealed 1,668 brands had run 8,776 unique ads on 160 sites that published misinformation about the 2020 election.
The Capitol siege, greatly fuelled by misinformation about voter fraud and conspiracy theories, is seen as a game changer. Shareholders’ current action signals that a lack of supervision over where advertising dollars end up is no longer acceptable – plus, it’s a risk to a brand’s, and so investors’, interests.
Sourced from The New York Times, GroupM, Newsguard