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Vodafone blocks ads on hate speech, fake news worldwide

Vodafone UK updated its global rules to prevent its ads from appearing alongside hate speech and fake news.

The British telecom giant already has a set of rules regarding the transparency of its global advertising budget. However, the updated rules will focus on hate speech and fake news outlets. The new rules will be implemented, the company said June 6, via a whitelist-based approach, which will use content controls implemented by Vodafone's global agency network, Alphabet Inc.-owned Google Inc. and Facebook Inc.

The content controls will help ensure that Vodafone's ads only appear next to selected outlets identified as highly unlikely to be focused on harmful content. Vodafone and its global agency network, led by WPP, will review the measures regularly so that the criteria for whitelisting outlets are neither too narrow nor too broad.

Pursuant to the new rules, Vodafone, third parties acting on behalf of Vodafone and Vodafone's advertising platform suppliers, including, but not limited to, Google and Facebook, will take all steps necessary to ensure that Vodafone's ads do not run next to hate speech and fake news.

Content intended to degrade women or vulnerable minorities will come under hate speech, while content that is presented as fact-based news with no credible primary source or fraudulent attribution with the intention to mislead will be considered fake news.

The news comes as social media sites, news outlets and nonprofit groups around the world are trying to tackle the spread of fake news, while more experts are looking toward the role of ad networks in funding fake news sites.