O2 joins 'Conscious Advertising Network' to fight fake news on 5G

The Conscious Advertising Network (CAN), a voluntary coalition of over 70 organisations set up to ensure that industry ethics catches up with the technology of modern advertising, today announces that mobile network operator, Telefónica UK Limited (O2), has become the newest member of the CAN network.

O2 has worked closely with industry partners and the Government to share a range of content across social and earned media to help educate people on the facts around 5G conspiracy theories. Through its partnership with CAN, and in particular the support of its Fake News manifesto, O2 is adding an extra layer of support in combating 5G misinformation.

O2 is committed to protecting frontline engineers and informing the public about the misinformation surrounding conspiracy theories connecting 5G with the COVID-19 pandemic. There have been cases of public harassment of engineers who work every day so that Britain can stay connected and conspiracy theorists are damaging and vandalising mobile masts. It’s vital to note that it’s not necessarily 5G masts being destroyed, they are 3G and 4G masts, which are keeping the country connected, vulnerable people in touch with loved ones and allowing emergency services to respond to those in need. This includes the abuse of engineers working on a mast that serves the Nightingale hospital in East London.

To continue its education mission, O2 has become a member of CAN, not only to support the fight against the spread of fake news, but to help raise awareness of where brands and advertisers’ ad spend is going. Brands need to be conscious of the sites they fund through their ad spend and the type of content they report on, as well as the possibility of appearing alongside misleading content that could risk their reputation.

Nina Bibby, CMO, O2, says: “As the first network operator to join CAN we are marking our commitment to helping the industry establish clear ethics and practices that positively impact customers’ lives and wellbeing. The misinformation around 5G is just one example of the damage that fake news can cause. As a provider of technology it is our responsibility to ensure it is used as a positive force for good and we look forward to working together with CAN to help tackle these industry challenges.”

CAN was created to eradicate ad fraud, ensure that content is as diverse as the people who make up the industry and to prevent brands from funding fake news or hate speech. Its mission is to stop advertising abuse, by highlighting the conscious choices advertisers and agencies make to ensure good practice.

Co-founder and co-chair of CAN, Jake Dubbins says : “Now more than ever, we need to put an end to the spread of conspiracy theories that are destroying infrastructures. During the current pandemic, the country is reliant on networks that allow us to work safely at home and keep in touch with loved ones. We are excited to have O2 join us in the fight to reduce misleading and inaccurate content, and pushing for organisations to take a responsible position on this contentious issue. Brands need to know the role advertising plays in funding fake news and the responsibility of avoiding funding misinformation and divisive content.”

CAN has developed a set of six manifestos, aiming to get their principles embedded in every UK agency brief; Anti-Ad Fraud, Informed Consent, Diversity, Fake News, Hate Speech and Children’s Wellbeing. Additional members of CAN include Merkle Periscpoix, Accenture Interactive, The Body Shop, and Sherpa.

To learn more about CAN, please visit https://www.consciousadnetwork.com/#Intro

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**About CAN: ** The Conscious Advertising Network’s (CAN) mission is to stop advertising abuse, by highlighting the conscious choices advertisers and agencies can make to ensure good practice.

Across all sectors of the advertising industry, modern technology has advanced so quickly that ethics haven’t been able to keep up. We want to change that.

Now more than ever, brands, agencies and adtech are perfectly placed to consciously change both the way they operate and the content they produce, resulting in communication that is better for all.

For more information, visit: www.consciousadnetwork.com

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