Consumer goods giant Unilever has been urged to back local news publishers after it threatened to pull advertising from digital giants which are used to “breed division”.

The company – whose brands include Marmite, Dove and Ben & Jerry’s – is concerned about the spread of illegal and extremist content online.

Its marketing chief Keith Weed has met with Facebook, Google, Twitter, Snap and Amazon, to stress that Unilever does “not want to advertise on platforms which do not make a positive contribution to society”.

He said: “We cannot continue to prop up a digital supply chain - one that delivers over a quarter of our advertising to our consumers - which at times is little better than a swamp in terms of its transparency.

“Fake news, racism, sexism, terrorists spreading messages of hate, toxic content directed at children - parts of the internet we have ended up with is a million miles from where we thought it would take us.”

Unilever cited research showing that trust in social media has hit a new low as a result of failed action over misleading or unlawful content – and said that while 2017 was the year of mobile video and voice, 2018 will either be the “year of trust” or the “year of techlash”, where the world will turn on tech giants.

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Henry Faure Walker, chief executive of this newspaper’s publisher Newsquest, urged Unilever to back 1XL, the national digital advertising partnership set up by Newsquest and other regional publishers, comprising 800 local news websites across the UK.

He said: “If Unilever is genuinely committed to ‘only advertising in responsible platforms that create a positive impact in society’, I give you local news brands: 1XL now reaching over 24 million UK adults a month through #trustedlocalmedia. Let’s talk.”

Local news brands such as Newsquest, whose websites are now read by over 70 per cent of the population in many of its towns and cities across the UK, provide a trusted platform for businesses big or small and consumers alike.

We are running a series of free seminars aimed at guiding businesses through the digital marketing world.

The seminars are being held at The Warren, Metropolitan Police Hayes Sports Club, near Bromley on February 28 and the Marriott Hotel, Bexleyheath on March 1 – sessions are held at 11am and 2.30pm on each day, lasting roughly 90 minutes, including time for tea/coffee.

Spaces are limited (max 20 per session), so to book yours just follow the appropriate link:

Feb 28 -

Mar 1 -

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Alternatively, email for more information, or to reserve your place.