Consumer goods giant Unilever has threatened to withdraw its ads from Facebook and Google, depriving them of billions in advertising revenues. It will only advertise on platforms that protect children and don't create division in society, its chief marketing officer Keith Weed said on Monday. Things are gradually getting uncomfortable for Facebook and co., commentators note.
What goes up must come down?
The Süddeutsche Zeitung sees Facebook and co. facing a dangerous image crisis:
“It wouldn't be the first time in the history of the Internet that big companies went into a tailspin. This process could even be accelerated if states make use of their options and use regulations to force Internet companies to adopt more consumer-friendly behaviour. Germany's Network Enforcement Act is an example - albeit not a very successful one - of this. So the networks would be well advised not to stop at words but to take effective action to show that they really want to improve. Otherwise their downfall could be as swift as their rise once was.”
David stands a chance against Goliath
Other economic players are taking action in those areas where states are powerless vis-à-vis today's huge companies, De Standaard concludes:
“In the last century states were big enough to keep monopolists that were too powerful in check in the name of the public interest. But not even the US or the European Union can use this weapon anymore. ... Major advertising clients, on the other hand, are very sensitive about the environment in which their ads appear. A context that is too negative doesn't suit their interests. And they can react by hitting where it hurts: the wallet. This paves the way for an unusual but productive objective alliance. ... Citizens are not entirely at the mercy of the big tech companies. They just need to become aware of their power and dare to exert it - as consumers and as voters.”