Unilever Disrupting Dark Side of Social Media

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With all the good that can be experienced through the internet and social media, most if not all of us are aware of, and concerned about the darker side. But what to be done? I have a theory that I’m exploring at the moment, and I’ll share at the end of this post.

In the meanwhile, I believe the leadership currently being shown by global brand Unilever, is set to create significant disruption that will lead to an increased accountability to the owners and directors of social media sites for the content being posted on their sites.

In this recent article Unilever threatens to pull adverts if tech giants fail to tackle extremist content it highlights that Unilever is warning tech firms if they fail to counter fake news and fraud online, Unilever is considering pulling out of lucrative advertising on those sites.

Bravo I say! And I hope more global brands realise the power they have, to put pressure on social media sites to make changes to make the web a more positive place for children and adults alike.

In the article, Unilever’s chief marketing officer (CMO) Keith Weed is quoted as saying “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.

“It is in the digital media industry’s interest to listen and act on this. Before viewers stop viewing, advertisers stop advertising and publishers stop publishing.”

Nice one Keith Weed.

I’ve been thinking about trust and the internet recently, and in particular trust (or distrust) and social media platforms.

My current thinking is one of the drivers of the dark side of social media is anonymity. My mum used to say to me “If you wouldn’t say it to the person’s face, don’t say it at all”. Good moral advice still today, and yet, the opportunity to make commentary under the shadow of anonymity is allowing people of all ages to shirk this simple and yet powerful moral advice.

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in my apprehension about the rise of post-Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest sites like Rumr, Whisper, Yik Yak and Wut (to name a few) that are promoting the idea of anonymous posting.

While I’m open to some mentoring advice from millennials or others who would like to share with me WHY anonymity is a good idea (except for hiding behind an alias to avoid recrimination), to me we are further venturing down a path of weakening morality.

So, although I realise this is too simplistic, but what if there was a global push to make it impossible (well at least a lot more difficult) to post anything under an anonymous name? What if every social media account already opened and opened in the future were checked and verified and traceable to an individual, AND that individual’s real name and details were available for all to see?

What if anonymity on the web was removed? I wonder if we’d see the dark side of social media become a lot lighter very quickly.

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