Pernod plans crowdsourcing app to axe hate speech from social media

Dive Brief:

  • Pernod Ricard plans to create an app that lets social media users report content they find objectionable directly to brands and companies. From there, marketers can use their influence to push social media companies to review and remove the content if necessary, the wine and spirits marketer announced.
  • Pernod, whose brands include Absolut vodka, is seeking partners to help develop the app and plans to have strict guidelines on data privacy and consumer engagement. The company will enlist a third-party expert to oversee the app and ensure its operations are transparent and accountable, per its announcement.
  • The announcement comes as Facebook, whose policies on hate speech have made it the target of a boycott this month by advertisers including Pernod, agreed to submit its social network to a brand safety audit by the Media Rating Council (MRC). The nonprofit will evaluate how Facebook protects ads from appearing next to objectionable content, Adweek reported.

Dive Insight:

Pernod Ricard’s plan to create a crowdsourcing app to monitor objectionable online content is a bold move to push social media companies like Facebook to take stronger action against hate speech. The spirits maker is among the marketers that have expressed concern that their social media advertising appears next to objectionable content, indirectly subsidizing its distribution.

Brand safety is a significant issue for marketers, with about half (49%) of consumers saying their opinion about a brand is negatively affected when its ads appear next to undesirable content, a survey by mobile video ad network AdColony found. Consumers are 2.8 times less likely to associate with a brand whose ads appear next to negative content, per a study by brand safety company Cheq.

Pernod Ricard’s plan to create a crowdsourcing app to monitor social media comes as a growing number of advertisers participate in the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign started by several civil rights groups including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the NAACP. The effort is urging marketers to pause advertising on Facebook in July to pressure the company to do more to remove hate speech. So far, more than 240 marketers including Adidas, Colgate-Palmolive, Ford, Hershey, Honda, Starbucks, Unilever and Verizon have signed on to the campaign, according to a running tally posted online.

Pernod’s app is part of its effort to pressure social media companies to remove hate speech after the boycott officially ends this month.

“The big question is: What happens August 1? We need more action and more people within the industry to find more solutions,” Pernod Ricard USA CEO Ann Mukherjee said in a statement. “Companies like ours can and should play a bigger role in problem-solving than just withholding advertising dollars.”

Pernod’s plan for the app is also notable as one of the first initiatives by Pam Forbus, who joined the company two weeks ago as its CMO for North America. She previously worked as senior VP of consumer experience, insights, data strategy, analytics and planning at Walt Disney Studio Entertainment. In Pernod’s announcement about the crowdsourcing app, Forbus said she’s using her technical expertise to help create a solution that works “directly with our consumers, each playing a small role in solving a big problem.”

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