Skip to main content

Confronting the Economics of Hate

by Jake Dubbins - November, 2019

On Tuesday 26th November, Jake is going to the United Nations to speak on the role of business in ensuring ethical advertising. We’ve grabbed 5 mins with him to find out what will be discussed, and what positive actions he hopes will come from it.

What’s the purpose of the session?  

The UN Secretary-General has recognised that fear is the “best-selling brand in the world today… It gets ratings. It wins votes. It generates clicks”. In order to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online, we need to address how it’s funded, which means confronting the systemic problems within the advertising industry.

The session at the UN is on The Economics of Hate and the Role of Business in Ensuring Ethical Advertising. I’ll be there as a co-Chair of the Conscious Advertising Network. Speaking alongside me will be Amir S Jan Malik, Tracy De Groose and Jerry Daykin.

We want to highlight the opportunities for strengthening international co-operation in the global effort to uphold human rights, equality and diversity and push back against hatred and extremism.

Why now?

The UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights identified a number of media platforms as being uniquely hostile to migrants. They were directly contributing to the spread of hate speech. Before last December’s UN General Assembly meeting to adopt the Global Compact for Migration, a massive online misinformation campaign was mounted by the far right to discredit the agreement. Countries pulled out and even the Belgian Government collapsed. Advertising is funding this, and the private sector has a vital role to play in tackling the economics of hate.

Is this why the Conscious Advertising Network was established?

Yes. The Conscious Advertising Network is a voluntary coalition set up to ensure that industry ethics catch up with the technology of modern advertising. The industry’s focus over the last ten years has been about the advancements in digital, and the money made from it. The problem is no ethical frameworks were put in place. We all know that advertising funds the internet. So now is the time for companies to scrutinise how and where their advertising budget is being spent. We need complete transparency. But in the UK we’re making progress. We’re encouraging businesses to follow six voluntary codes covering a range of issues including hate speech, fake news, and diversity. Now we want to share this at a global level and encourage other UN member states to foster responsible action by advertisers and media companies.

What prompted you to set up the Conscious Advertising Network?

A personal incident happened a few years ago, which made me aware of hate crime. That made me want to find out about the rise of hate crime and the role the internet plays. As the MD of a social media agency, I know how the online advertising industry works. I know how money is made and how I can make a positive impact.  I guess I’m one of the people that thinks the industry, as it currently stands, needs to be fixed.

Our ethos at Media Bounty has always been to work in an ethical manner. We’re a business with a conscience and want to look beyond profit and work with companies that have a social purpose and genuinely want to make a difference. Consciousness needs to be brought into decision-making right at CMO, even Board-level. When marketers are briefing ad campaigns, they have a responsibility to make sure it’s not just about hitting their KPIs, but doing so in an ethical and responsible way.

How can businesses make a difference?

Visit the Conscious Advertising Network, read our manifestos and sign up. We want advertisers to commit to action. This means putting an ethical framework into the creative briefs and RFPs they issue. It ensures best practice and encourages conscious choices about the way they operate and the content they produce.