New Initiative Unlocks the Power of Consumers and Brings Brands and Social Media Platforms Together to Clean up Hate Online

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Spearheaded by Pernod Ricard, and Endorsed by GARM and the ANA, #EngageResponsibly Invites All Stakeholders to Work in Collaboration Towards Stopping Online Hate Speech and Setting New Standards for Responsible Advertising

Pernod Ricard USA CEO Ann Mukherjee called on the advertising industry and social media platforms to join a new initiative to help stop the spread of hate speech online and set new standards for responsible advertising. #EngageResponsibly, which is endorsed by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM), supported by WPP and powered by Salesforce technology, will use the power of collective action to help make social media environments safe and healthy for all users.

“Human social connections are critical to our planet’s sustainability and future. In a world where we must remain physically distant, the need for social proximity has never been greater,” said Pernod Ricard USA CEO Ann Mukherjee. “Social media was made for this moment. But corners of our social spaces are becoming toxic and unsafe, driven by the few who pollute them with hate. As advertisers, we cannot choose to take advantage of the best aspects of these social spaces while turning a blind eye to the negative, as if it is only the platform’s responsibility – or that of our industry associations – to address a problem that impacts us all.”

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Building on the significant progress being made by GARM and the ANA to improve brand safety and sustainability, #EngageResponsibly empowers consumers, brands and social media platforms to take tangible actions to prevent the spread of hate speech online. The initiative will raise awareness and inform consumers on how to report hate using the existing platform mechanisms, as well as introduce them to a new technology-powered tool that allows them to consistently report hate speech across platforms in a way that’s as easy as Direct Messaging a friend. Brands will be given the opportunity to earn an Anti-Hate Certification by calculating their “hate footprint” and investing in NGOs that are either fighting hate or support communities most impacted by hate to offset it. Small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) will have access to tools that allow them to be at the forefront of responsible advertising, maximizing the impact of their social media presence while demonstrating their shared commitment to fighting hate with their consumers. Finally, platforms will have access to data collected through the initiative that exposes how users and content that spark hate ‘jump’ from platform to platform to avoid being shut down as anti-hate speech policies are enforced, helping them anticipate potential spikes in hate speech and act quickly to limit their spread.
“This past July, more than 1,200 advertisers participated in the #StopHateForProfit boycott, pausing their social media advertising on Facebook and other social media platforms. The goal was to push the platforms to move with greater speed, effectiveness and transparency to diminish the spread of hate,” said Bob Liodice, CEO of the ANA. “But we need to go beyond the boycott. #EngageResponsibly is an actionable initiative that enables our members and their consumers to create positive change. This is not for our members only. It is available to all brands committed to responsible advertising.”

The initiative will be powered by a robust database that combines consumer-reported data augmented with high-volume social listening to provide an ongoing, uniform pulse on the state of hate across networks. Technology integration with the social media platforms is fully GDPR compliant and is designed to meet developer and user Terms of Service for each social platform. The technology will be going live in open-beta in November to inform the ongoing product roadmap.

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“Social media platforms cannot be super spreaders of hate, division, and disinformation. #EngageResponsibly is a promising reporting framework that mobilizes consumers in a new way for the betterment of digital media platforms, to complement industry codes we’ve been advancing. Hate speech requires an all-in approach and this is a welcomed step by the Global Alliance for Responsible Media,” said Rob Rakowitz, initiative lead for GARM.

#EngageResponsibly is launching in the U.S. on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook in the first release. Hate reporting services will expand to additional social platforms in the next release cycle. The technology is modular and scalable, enabling the initiative to expand into multiple markets while managing the specific platform, data privacy and policy requirements of each market. Importantly, the initiative is structured to be operated as a not-for-profit, governed by a diverse Board of Advisors that will ensure all key stakeholders have a voice in how the initiative evolves.

The problem of hate speech on social media is undeniable. Research from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)1 shows that 35% of Americans report experiencing harassment online due to racial, religious or sexual identity. In the UK, hate speech is considered a crime and a public health risk while in the U.S., hate speech is considered an adolescent mental health risk by the CDC.

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“Social media platforms are an indispensable cornerstone of every marketer’s strategy,” said Pam Forbus, CMO of Pernod Ricard USA. “They allow affordable, targeted advertising for even the smallest brands and businesses, enable easy two-way communication with customers and brand fans, and help businesses facilitate search, increase website traffic, and demonstrate brand values in real time.  But we lose trust with our consumers when we condone hate speech through our own inaction. We must act now to protect the safety and viability of these platforms for everyone.”

“This initiative is not about pointing fingers or placing blame – it’s about bringing together stakeholders who understand the incredible power and beauty of our social spaces in order to protect them from the few who toxify them with hate,” said Mukherjee. “For Pernod Ricard, this initiative is about living our purpose – to create conviviality, to engage and share with respect. Because where hate speech resides, respect does not. Ensuring our shared social spaces are safe and that we are meeting the highest standards of responsible advertising are business imperatives by which I will measure my success as a CEO. Because as leaders, our jobs have evolved. We can’t just be focused on return on investment.  We have an obligation to deliver a return on responsibility – and to demonstrate that love can be more profitable than hate.”

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