Vodafone tries to keep its ads away from fake news sites

The telecom is blocking its ads from appearing on sites dedicated to fake news and hate speech.

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Neil Hall / Reuters
Neil Hall / Reuters

After Trump was elected President, folks clamored about the toxic sites that helped deliver him to the White House. The backlash pushed companies to distance themselves from some of them, and literally cost others income, like when major advertising firm AppNexus pulled all its ads from Breitbart last November. Today, global telecom Vodafone has taken a similar stand by blocking its ads from appearing on sites that promote fake news and hate speech.

As The Guardian points out, that means offending sites will miss out on Vodafone's 400 million annual digital advertising budget. To be clear, the telecom group won't stop customers from visiting those pages. But as part of new stricter rules to its ad transparency and integrity policy, the company will pull any Vodafone-promoting ads from any online outlet, social media site, app or broadcast channel whose "prominent purpose" is to disseminate hate speech or fake news. Only sites that have been whitelisted by Vodafone's advertising network as "highly unlikely to be focused on harmful content" will be allowed to host the ads.

That means it's not an outright ban on any site featuring a minority of offensive content. Per Vodafone's' statement: "An outlet that carries some hate speech or fake news content – but where the majority of content disseminated would not meet the tests above – must not be categorised as warranting exclusion from advertising whitelists on hate speech/fake news grounds."

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