NEW DELHI: With big US advertisers pausing their spends on Facebook due to hate speech, social media platforms have to take more responsibility and create policies to contain the spread of divisive content, said Mark Read, chief executive of WPP Plc.
Talking to Sudhanshu Vats, managing director and chief executive - Essel Propack Limited during Ficci Frames, an annual media and entertainment industry event held online on Tuesday, Raed said “There has to be a careful balance that these platforms have to strike between free speech, taking down hate speech and moderating the content on their platform and having the resources to do that."
Perhaps they have moved too slowly in the past and haven’t taken firm enough actions so they are being caught up with these pressures, he added.
Hundreds of brands, including few WPP clients, such as Adidas, Pfizer, Unilever, Starbucks, Puma and Coca-Cola among any others have openly boycotted Facebook accusing the platform of doing little to stop hate speech.
“There is a degree of frustration that these things are not happening quickly enough. There continues to be hate speech on social media platforms where there should be none. I do think that the pressure on the platforms to change is understandable," Read said.
The future of digital media and advertising will depend on whether these platforms manage to provide safe environment for brands and consumers. Read emphasized the immediate need to create effective policies that protect consumers and end up creating a safe platform and having procedures and processes to take down content that doesn’t fit with those policies.
Following the ban of Chinese apps including short-video platform TikTok due to border tensions and data security threat, US is also looking at banning Chinese apps.
Talking about the impact of covid-19 on WPP’s India business, Read said in the short-term (next six months) things will be tough for the business in India. Though the company remains invested in the market and is currently building a production hub where in house content for different platforms will be created.
About the estimated drop in advertising spends in the India market, Read said they have witnessed 5% drop in the ad spends estimates in the first quarter followed by 60% decline in spends in the second quarter.
“The third and fourth quarter will witness somewhere around 30% dip. Having said that we are seeing some recovery in the economic activity which will in turn impact the spends," he added.
Recovery in consumption will be in three stages, react, recover and renew. India is in recover and renew phase where consumers are slowly getting back to business but the spending is cautionary and only on essentials. Read highlighted that this would slowly evolve which will in turn spurn recovery in advertising spends as well.