New Zealand advertisers consider pulling ads from social media after Christchurch attacks

Some New Zealand companies are weighing whether to advertise on social media as two industry groups urged them not to in the wake of recent mass shooting in Christchurch that was live-streamed on Facebook and redistributed on other platforms.

Lotto has pulled its social media advertising and other New Zealand businesses are being asked to consider where they put their advertising money, after the Christchurch mosque attacks.

A spokeswoman for Lotto said it had removed its social media advertising “at this time” because the tone did not feel right.

Fifty people were killed and dozens wounded in the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch on March 15. Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, was charged with murder on March 16.

“ASB Bank, one of the country’s biggest banks and a unit of Commonwealth Bank of Australia, is in talks on whether to pull its ads from social media,” Lotto NZ spokeswoman Kirsten Robinson said in emailed comments.

The Association of New Zealand Advertisers (ANZA) and the Commercial Communications Council said that had brought the role of social media into serious question.

“We recognise social media provides many community and social benefits. But with that comes responsibilities for social media owners to effectively moderate content on their sites.”

A spokesperson said ANZA and the Commercial Communications Council and members would work together on what more ANZA, the Comms Council and their members will work together over the next few days on what more could be done by advertisers, agencies, platform owners and global partners to reduce the chance of this happening again.

Businesses believed to be reconsidering their advertising spend include ASB and Burger King. She said members had asked ANZA to represent them by raising awareness of the issues.

A number of big advertisers said the shooting had changed their strategies. Westpac had halted a “range of advertising”. ANZ had restricted advertising around coverage of the attack. BNZ paused much of its advertising.

Advertising funds social media. Businesses are already asking if they wish to be associated with social media platforms unable or unwilling to take responsibility for content on those sites. The events in Christchurch raise the question, if the site owners can target consumers with advertising in microseconds, why can’t the same technology be applied to prevent this kind of content being streamed live?

“We encourage all advertisers to recognise they have choice where their advertising dollars are spent, and carefully consider, with their agency partners, where their ads appear.

“We challenge Facebook and other platform owners to immediately take steps to effectively moderate hate content before another tragedy can be streamed online.”

“The events in Christchurch raise the question, if the site owners can target consumers with advertising in microseconds, why can’t the same technology be applied to prevent this kind of content being streamed live?”

Facebook said on Saturday it removed 1.5 million videos globally of the attack in the first 24 hours after the attack and is removing all edited versions of the video that do not show graphic content.

Both Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Youtube said they were also using automated tools to identify violent content and remove them.

New Zealand’s biggest telecommunications company, Spark NZ Ltd, worked with a number of broadband providers on Friday to cut off access to dozens of websites that were redistributing the video of the killings, to stop it spreading.

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