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Companies Boycott Google Over Ads Alongside Hateful Content

Advertisers are finally saying no to Google's lack of accountability for its content.


A boycott of Google and its platforms that began in the United Kingdom has spread to the United States amid backlash due to advertisements appearing next to hateful and offensive content.

Last week AT&T (No. 4 on the DiversityInc 2016 Top 50 Companies for Diversity list) said in a statement, "We are deeply concerned that our ads may have appeared alongside YouTube content promoting terrorism and hate. Until Google can ensure this won't happen again, we are removing our ads from Google's nonsearch platforms."

Johnson & Johnson (No. 8), General Motors (No. 48) and Walmart (one of DiversityInc's 2016 25 Noteworthy Companies) also announced they would be pulling their advertisements as well.

The Times in London reportedly triggered the boycott when an article reported in February that companies including Sandals Resorts, Honda, Thompson Reuters and Mercedes-Benz were among those whose advertisements on YouTube appeared alongside content including pro-ISIS videos and videos for groups with al-Qaeda affiliations. About 250 organizations have since reportedly withdrawn their advertisements from Google and its subsidiaries. For most companies, ads will still appear in Google searches.

Meanwhile, shares for Alphabet (Google's parent company) have been on the decline over the last week.

Google, which has never applied to participate in the DiversityInc Top 50 competition, has an astounding lack of diversity in its leadership ranks. According to its own diversity data, women make up just 24 percent of leadership throughout the company. Ethnic diversity is also dismal, with leadership being 70 percent white, 25 percent Asian, 2 percent Black, 2 percent two or more races, 1 percent Hispanic and less than 1 percent "other."

The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity, when expressed as a stock index, outperform the rest of the market, suggesting that good judgment in one area permeates throughout an organization.

Morgan Stanley and RBC Capital Markets both noted that the boycott is likely to have a significant impact on Google's long-term revenues. However, analysts with Nomura Instinet calculated that the company could lose as much as $750 million as a result. Business Insider reported: "According to the note, YouTube, which relies extensively on big brands, would take a 7.5% hit to its revenues, which are estimated to be $10.2 billion for 2017. Five of the top 20 US advertisers, which make up 7.5% of the US ad spend, have frozen their advertising with Google — alongside dozens more around the world."

Google said in a blog post it would "be making changes in the coming weeks to give brands more control over where their ads appear." In another post Philipp Schindler, chief business officer, said the company would be "taking a tougher stance" and said that its current policies work "in the vast majority of cases."

However, companies have continued announcing the boycott even after Google's "public commitment" — indicating that perhaps its promises do not go far enough.

Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP Group, said last week on CNBC that it is no longer acceptable for Google to not take ownership for the content that appears on its platforms. YouTube reportedly receives 400 hours of new content uploaded every minute. But with such massive success and power comes responsibility — and accountability.

"They claim the volumes are so great, that it's impossible to monitor," Sorrell explained. "With success, with Google and Facebook controlling 75 percent of digital advertising — which in turn is about 30 percent of the worldwide market — with that success comes responsibility, and the responsibility is … they have to exert more control on behalf of our clients, have to take more responsibility for it. They can't just say, 'Look, we're a technology company, we have nothing to do with the content that is appearing on our digital pages.'"

Notably, WPP has not announced it would get behind the boycott. WPP, which also has does not participate in the DiversityInc Top 50, has a lack of diversity in its ranks as well, with just 33 percent of executive leaders being women. Only 13 percent of executive leaders are "ethnic minorities." (Incidentally, the company came under fire last year over a £70m pay package for Sorrell, a deal 33.5 percent of the company's shareholders voted against. According to the company's sustainability report, "We do not currently collect or report data on pay in relation to gender at a group level.")

Media analyst for Pivotal Research Group Brian Wieser said that the company's outlined strategy does not address how serious the situation is.

"They're saying they're trying harder — that's insufficient," he said. "They don't seem to understand the scale of the perceived problem."

In a report Pivotal downgraded Google stock from "Buy" to "Hold" in light of the "serious issues" pertaining to "brand safety."

"Although spending by advertisers who have announced their intention to suspend spending on YouTube and other Google properties is relatively small so far, we think that awareness of the incident will marginally curtail global growth this year vs. prior expectations, leading us to reduce our price target on Alphabet slightly, to $950 vs. $970 previously," the report states.

"[Google's] approach comes across to us as attempting to minimize the problem rather than eliminating it, which is the standard we think that many large brand advertisers expect," Pivotal said. "We think that Google will probably need to articulate goals that sound more like a zero tolerance policy, to alleviate concerns before it can fully recover."

Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said on Fox Business last week, "What we do is, we match ads and the content, but because we source the ads from everywhere, every once in a while somebody gets underneath the algorithm and they put in something that doesn't match." He added that the company has had to "tighten" its policies surrounding advertisements.

When asked if the company's steps would guarantee that ads are not placed where advertisers do not want them Schmidt said, "We can in this case" but added that because "the ads come from everywhere" and sometimes come in violation of the company's own policies, "we can't guarantee it, but we can get pretty close."

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General Motors Is Building an eBike and Wants You to Name It

Crowdsourcing campaign seeks awesome ideas from consumers around the globe.

Originally Published by General Motors.

Since committing to an all-electric future, General Motors is developing revolutionary, flexible electrification technologies that will enable our team to dream beyond the traditional vehicle and give our customers the freedom of movement that they seek. Today our team brought one of those dreams to life when we revealed two innovative, integrated and connected eBikes – one folding and one compact – without a brand.

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General Motors Calls for National Zero Emissions Vehicle (NZEV) Program

NZEV program could add more than 7 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030.

Originally Published by General Motors.

General Motors filed comments to the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks. In its comments, General Motors proposes the establishment of a National Zero Emissions Vehicle (NZEV) program to support a 50-state solution, promote the success of the U.S. automotive industry and preserve U.S. industrial leadership for years to come.

General Motors anticipates the NZEV program, as recommended, has the potential to place more than 7 million long-range EVs on the road by 2030, yielding a cumulative incremental reduction of 375 million tons of CO2 emissions between 2021 and 2030 over the existing ZEV program.

Quotes from Mark Reuss, executive vice president and president, Global Product Group and Cadillac:

  • "General Motors has a vision of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion. This is a bold vision and getting there will take bold actions."
  • "We believe in a policy approach that better promotes U.S. innovation and starts a much-needed national discussion on electric vehicle development and deployment in this country. A National Zero Emissions Program will drive the scale and infrastructure investments needed to allow the U.S. to lead the way to a zero emissions future."

Program Elements
General Motors supports a nationwide program modeled on the existing ZEV program and provides these framework recommendations:

  • Establish ZEV requirements (by credits) each year, starting at 7 percent in 2021 and increasing 2 percent each year to 15 percent by 2025, then 25 percent by 2030.
  • Use of a crediting system modeled on the current ZEV program: credits per vehicle, based on EV range, as well as averaging, banking and trading.
  • Requirements after 2025 linked to path toward commercially viable EV battery cell availability at a cost of $70/kWh and adequate EV infrastructure development.
  • Establishment of a Zero Emissions Task Force to promote complementary policies.
  • Program terminates when 25 percent target is met, or based on a determination that the battery cost or infrastructure targets are not practicable within the timeframe.
  • Additional consideration for EVs deployed as autonomous vehicles and in rideshare programs.

Black Man Suffering from Mental Health Illness Dies After Police Use Taser and Tackle Him in the Street

His sister, who said she left the U.S. to protect her Black son, never thought her brother would be the victim.

TWITTER/ @opalayo

Chinedu Valentine Okobi, 36, a Black man, father, Morehouse College graduate, uncle and brother died of cardiac arrest after San Mateo County police tackled and repeatedly used a Taser on him in Millibrae, south of San Francisco, Calif.

Okobi was struggling with mental illness and had been weaving in and out of traffic downtown on the busy street, El Camino Real.

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General Motors' Maven Provides Transportation Solutions in Rising Gig Economy

"The Maven Gig app was designed to help people who currently may not have a car, but still want to be a part of the gig economy," GM's Iman Jefferson told DiversityInc.

GM's Iman Jefferson (far left) speaks during "Smart Cities and You" panel session at the CBCF's 48th Annual Legislative Conference. / DIVERSITYINC

The climate is changing in mobility and General Motors (GM) is meeting the challenge.

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General Motors Supports Baltimore Students Moving at Full STEAM Toward Tech Careers

General Motors sponsored the "Wakanda Design Challenge" at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's annual conference.

Approximately 100 Baltimore high school students took a conceptual journey to Wakanda during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's 48th Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.

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General Motors Strengthens Sustainability Leadership, Earns Placement on Two Dow Jones Indices

Company maintains its ranking on the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index and is the only automaker on North American Index for fourth year.

Originally Published by General Motors.

General Motors has once again been included on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices for corporate sustainability leadership. This marks the second year the company has been selected for the World Index and its fourth consecutive year as the only automaker on the North American Index.

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97-Year-Old Black Woman Has Been an Election Day Poll Worker for 79 Years

Laura Mitnaul Wooten, honored during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's annual conference, urged Black people to vote in midterm elections.

Left to right: Chair of NNPA Dorothy R. Leavell; Laura Mitnaul Wooten; and NNPA President and CEO Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. / DIVERSITYINC

Laura Mitnaul Wooten plans to head to the polls on Nov. 6 to vote in the midterm elections, and to work, as she's done every Election Day for the past 79 years, consecutively. Wooten said that the right to vote, which so many suffered and even died for, is currently being taken for granted.

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GM Student Corps Celebrates 6 Years of Impacting Young Lives

The Student Corps, an extension of GM's commitment to education, hired 150 students from 15 high schools.


By Lester Booker Jr.

In its sixth year, General Motors Student Corps matched teams of 10 high school interns with retired GM executives and college interns for life skills development and career preparation. As part of their 10-week journey, students learned the value of teamwork, leadership, goal-setting and community service.

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