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Mike's Minute: The moral question around advertising on social media

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 24 Apr 2024, 9:31am

Mike's Minute: The moral question around advertising on social media

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 24 Apr 2024, 9:31am

One of the mysteries of our time is why so many businesses, and big businesses, spend so much money on social media platforms, given what's on those platforms. 

Hyundai are the latest to pause their advertising on 'X' after anti-Semitic posts were highlighted and the car company's ads were right next door. 

In Australia they are busy sorting out legislation to penalise these platforms for material that should not be anywhere near the public and yet is, especially after their knife attacks that, at least in one instance, involved a young man allegedly driven by religious hate. 

Australia is far from the first, and in general the social media platforms roll out, at least on the surface, a not unreasonable response. "It's not acceptable, we don’t condone it, we monitor, we try to stay on top of it" and so it goes. 

Yet it keeps happening and certainly keeps happening to the point where authorities all over the world are sick of it and are trying to work out what will bring them into line. 

It sort of dovetails into the media levy debate that has raged here of late, whereby many of the same platforms steal news content, put it on their service and wrap advertising around it 

So, while various Governments grapple with the issue of both the levy and the posting of shocking material, why is it that companies advertise in these spaces, given the very clear and obvious risk they run? 

The answer is simple. Eyeballs. You need to be where the people are. 

But we can increasingly ask as to whether that can be a good enough justification. 

Politicians are no better. Joe Biden wants to ban TikTok and yet campaigns on it. 

I assume politicians here abhor the sentiment pedalled on many of these platforms and yet they post relentlessly, knowing there is an audience to be connected with. 

Advertisers need to ask themselves some questions. They appear affected by the whim of the day, the 'me too' movement, the pride movement and the green movement for example. They sway with their advertising dollars in the winds of social change. 

Yet some of the worst material you will ever see is on social media and on a regular basis. We know this to be true. And yet they still hand the money over to people who claim to want to clean their operations up and yet never quite achieve it. 

Explain that logic to me.    

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