Hate speech


It is our belief that the choices we make as advertisers have an impact on society and must be aligned with our corporate values.

As an industry, we should be committed to supporting positive media that empowers others, and to challenging hatred.

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The Leadership Position

Advertising inadvertently funds hate speech. Therefore, advertisers should take action to make hate unprofitable by eradicating it from their media spend.

The Commercial Imperative

A framework is needed to encourage the media to move away from hate speech and alignment with extremist content. This will ensure brand safety and will attract millennials as both new customers and employees in the future.

Only a minority (48%) of millennials currently believe businesses behave ethically and that business leaders are committed to helping improve society (47%).

It will also play a part in ensuring future growth, as brands with meaningful purpose and principles ‘… command a price that is 14% higher, and their growth in value share is, on average, 6% higher than brands that are low on meaning, difference, and salience.’

Organisations should include these principles in all agency briefs and instruct planners to ensure that all advertising purchases are consistent with these principles:

Advertiser Behaviours

  • Adopt and apply ISBA’s best practice guidelines on countering disinformation and hate speech through all our owned social media channels.
  • Influence the online platforms advertised on to implement effective processes for swiftly identifying and removing hate speech.
  • Avoid advertising with media outlets that fuel hatred on the grounds of race, religion, nationality, migration status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, disability, or any other group characteristic.

In assessing whether a publication or platform has crossed the line, we will be guided by international human rights principles, including those outlined in the United Nations-backed Rabat Plan of Action. This aims to tackle hate speech while also respecting the right to freedom of expression.

We will also be mindful of the disproportionate impact of hate speech and online abuse on people who face intersectional discrimination (discrimination that targets multiple aspects of an individual’s identity), and the fact that inflammatory media coverage can place them at an increased risk of online abuse. Hate online is fuelled by wider structural inequalities within society and can exacerbate those inequalities through its disproportionate impact.

Through our advertising choices, we will seek to positively support media outlets that align with the best practice guidelines outlined in the Camden Principles on Freedom of Expression and Equality.

Media Behaviours

Media behaviour of particular concern would include publishing or broadcasting:

1. Statements which incite violence or discrimination against a particular group or individual.

2. Dehumanising language (e.g. “rats” or “cockroaches”) to describe a particular group.

3. Promoting harmful stereotypes or misinformation targeting a particular group.

4. Stories about a particular group which are overwhelmingly negative.

5. Coverage which makes unnecessary references to race, religion, gender, and other group characteristics that may promote intolerance, particularly when intersectionality is at play.

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