Brands pull advertising from after teenager’s death

BT, EDF Energy and Specsavers are among several brands that have pulled advertising from social media site after it was linked to the suicide of cyberbullying victim Hannah Smith.

Brands have moved to distance themselves from amid cyberbullying concerns.

Save the Children, The Sun and Specsavers have also followed suit following revelations that teenager Smith took her own life after cyberbullying on the site.

A spokesman for BT says: “BT and its media agency take the placement of our advertising very seriously. We adhere to strict terms of engagement and actively seek to blacklist inappropriate sites. Advertising on inappropriate internet content is an industry wide problem and we work closely with advertising industry bodies such as the IAB and ISBA to help resolve this issue.”

Meanwhile, Vodafone UK says it is investigating whether its advertising has appeared on recently after claiming its media agencies have recently stopped placing ads on the site.

In a statement it says: “We expect our advertising partners to share our values and are investigating whether our advertising has appeared on recently.  Through our Digital Parenting Guide we are helping raise awareness of some of the websites that younger users visit and how parents can support their teenagers when using them.”

ISBA, the body representing the interests of British advertisers, says the rush from brands to disassociate themselves to the site highlights the need for “stronger reassurances protecting advertisers from online ad misplacement”.

Bob Wootton, ISBA’s director of media and advertising, adds: “Purely from an advertiser-safety point of view, these tragic events demonstrate how little control advertisers sometimes have over where their ads can appear. Advertisers are clearly very concerned about the unintended placement of the brands they invest millions in protecting and promoting, and it is quite understandable that companies are now withdrawing their advertising from Ask FM.”

The announcements just hours after the prime minster David Cameron urged social media sites that allow cyberbullying to happen to do more to seek out the perpetrators or face boycotts from users.

Facebook had problems earlier this year when brands including Nationwide and Sky suspended advertising on the social network after the Everyday Sexism Project highlighted that brands’ ads were being served against offensive content making light of violence against women.

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