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Terror on the net: New Vodafone rules on hate speech, fake news

The Vodafone CEO said hate speech and fake news “threaten to undermine the principles of respect and trust that bind communities together”.

world Updated: Jun 06, 2017 15:54 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
The rules refer to Vodafone ensuring that ads do not appear within hate speech and fake news outlets.
The rules refer to Vodafone ensuring that ads do not appear within hate speech and fake news outlets.(Representative Photo)

Amid concerns expressed by Prime Minister Theresa May on the spread of hate speech and radicalisation through the internet, London-headquartered telecommunications major Vodafone has announced new rules to prevent its advertising from appearing on sites linked to hate speech and fake news.

The new rules – which are now in effect – include Vodafone's definition of hate speech and fake news for the purposes of determining whether or not a particular outlet should carry its advertising, the firm said in a statement on Tuesday. 

The rules focussed on hate speech and fake news outlets are implemented by means of a whitelist-based approach, using content controls implemented by Vodafone’s global agency network (led by WPP), Google and Facebook. 

“Those controls ensure that Vodafone advertisements are only served within selected outlets identified as highly unlikely to be focused on harmful content. These measures will be reviewed regularly by Vodafone and its global agency network to ensure that the selection of outlets for whitelisting is appropriate and neither too broad nor too narrow,” it said. 

Vodafone chief executive Vittorio Colao said: "Hate speech and fake news threaten to undermine the principles of respect and trust that bind communities together. Vodafone has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion; we also greatly value the integrity of the democratic processes and institutions that are often the targets of purveyors of fake news. We will not tolerate our brand being associated with this kind of abusive and damaging content."

The rules refer to Vodafone, third parties acting on its behalf and its advertising platform suppliers (including, but not limited to, Google and Facebook) taking all measures necessary to ensure that the advertising does not appear within hate speech and fake news outlets. 

“We define these as outlets whose predominant purpose is the dissemination of content that is: deliberately intended to degrade women or vulnerable minorities (‘hate speech’); or presented as fact-based news (as opposed to satire or opinion) that has no credible primary source (or relies on fraudulent attribution to a primary source) with what a reasonable person would conclude is the deliberate intention to mislead (‘fake news’),” the statement said.