Adland demands change to stop racism in open letter to Facebook, Twitter and Snap

Letter comes in a week during which racists took to social media to target England’s black players following the Euro 2020 final. Abuse seeped into the physical world, too, with a mural of Marcus Rashford defaced by racists.

Rashford mural: has been covered with messages of solidarity after being defaced
Rashford mural: has been covered with messages of solidarity after being defaced

A group of advertisers, agencies, campaign groups and individuals from across the industry has written to the chief executives of Facebook, Twitter and Snap demanding social networks do "more to make their platforms safe" and stop racism.

Entitled "#TogetherWeCan. In solidarity against online racism", the open letter has been compiled by the Conscious Advertising Network and calls out – "as many of us warned" – a "lack of adequate action by social media companies to combat online discrimination".

The high-profile signatories are calling on social networks to make four key changes, in time for the start of the 2021/22 Premier League season, which kicks off on 13 August.

They are:

  1. Publish updated hate speech policies, that include the use of emojis, to support your zero tolerance approach.
  2. Advertise your zero tolerance approach directly to users.
  3. Enforce your policies and report racist abuse to the police, employers and relevant football clubs as a crime.
  4. Add an interstitial to disrupt potentially racist remarks, and ensure human checking on all posts flagged in this way.

The list of signatures spans advertisers, agencies and other organisations, including Direct Line, KFC, Havas Media, giffgaff, British Gas, the IPA, Creative Equals, Stonewall, VMLY&R, Adam & Eve/DDB, PHD, the7stars, Eve Sleep, the AAR, Engine Group, Wunderman Thompson, R/GA, Thinkbox and We Are Social.

Figureheads from adland, both in-house and agency-side, have also added their names. They include Meg Farren, chief marketing officer of KFC, Jerry Daykin, EMEA senior media director at GSK, Karen Blackett, chief executive of GroupM, Zoe Harris, chief marketing officer of On the Beach, Sue Frogley, chief executive of Publicis Media, Nadine Young, chief executive of Starcom, Cheryl Calverley, chief executive of Eve Sleep, and Dino Myers-Lamptey, founder of The Barber Shop.

The letter is calling for solidarity, while bemoaning the unacceptable state of some quarters of social media.

"The racism that we saw directed towards England's players this week, when they should have been celebrating their highest finish in a major men's tournament in over five decades, followed the trend of abuse that we have seen online over the past few years," it reads.

"Racist abuse causes trauma, not only to those who are targeted, but it also has a painful and triggering impact on others who view this online."

The full letter can be read here and people or organisations wishing to sign up should contact hello@consciousadnetwork.org.

Campaign is one of the signatories to the letter.

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