This discussion will consider the human rights implications of current online advertising practices, and how advertisers, internet platforms, and advertising companies can be expected to address these risks.
Advertisers face potential reputational risks when brands are associated with hateful or harmful content through automated ad placement algorithms, or "programmatic advertising". Harmful online content may adversely impact on human rights, such as through the incitement of violence, extremism or hate speech, or undue interference in democratic elections.
However, regulatory reforms addressed at removing harmful content may have implications for human rights and the rule of law by requiring internet platforms to decide what constitutes harmful content without judicial overview. These kinds of laws may potentially lead to companies shutting down valid and non-harmful content and interfere with the right to free speech.
Moreover, as we have recently seen, the possession and use by companies of private user information, which is necessary for "programmatic advertising", also has implications for human rights. Internet platform companies and those that advertise on them (which is almost all consumer-facing companies) need to consider how to ensure that their online advertising activities are not linked to adverse human rights impacts.
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