Facebook promise to tackle fake news after advertiser's 'swamp' outburst

Facebook executives have pledged to tackle fake news and online fraud after Unilever warned tech firms that it will pull lucrative advertising contracts if companies allow their platforms to "breed division".

Adam Mosseri, the social network's head of news feed, told an audience in California that Unilever's commitment to tackling issues such as online racism, sexism and terrorism is a "great thing".

"We think the commitment by such a large advertiser on these issues is great, it's a great thing.

"It's on us to make sure we deliver and meet whatever expectations that they have, but we commend the announcement," Mr Mosseri said at the Code Media conference in Huntington Beach.

His comments come after the consumer goods giant's marketing chief Keith Weed raised serious concerns over the spread of illegal and extremist content online.

He said on Monday: "We cannot continue to prop up a digital supply chain - one that delivers over a quarter of our advertising to our consumers - which at times is little better than a swamp in terms of its transparency.

"Fake news, racism, sexism, terrorists spreading messages of hate, toxic content directed at children - parts of the internet we have ended up with is a million miles from where we thought it would take us."

Mr Weed has met with a raft of Unilever's digital partners including Facebook, Google, Twitter, Snap and Amazon, to stress that it does "not want to advertise on platforms which do not make a positive contribution to society".

Campbell Brown, Facebook's head of news partnerships, added that the group is making steps to "better define quality sources of news, and ensure that that's what gets the most visibility in feeds".

Unilever has cited research showing that trust in social media has hit a new low as a result of failed action over misleading or unlawful content - and said that while 2017 was the year of mobile video and voice, 2018 will either be the "year of trust" or the "year of techlash", where the world will turn on tech giants.

The Anglo-Dutch group - which is behind Dove, Marmite and Ben & Jerry's ice cream - confirmed that it will not invest in "platforms or environments" that breed division, or promote anger or hate, or fail to protect children.

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