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UPDATE 1-Facebook, Twitter outpaced by smaller platforms in fight against harmful content -agency

Sheila Dang
·2 min read

(Adds details from agency report)

By Sheila Dang

Feb 8 (Reuters) - Facebook, Twitter andAlphabet's YouTube made smaller strides than theirsocial media rivals including TikTok and Reddit at battlingharmful content such as hate speech and misinformation duringthe second half of 2020, a study released on Monday showed.

Advertising agency IPG Mediabrands released its"Media Responsibility Index," examining how the top social mediaplatforms performed in 10 areas including protecting children'swellbeing, providing more transparency for advertisers andcombating misinformation and disinformation.

Mediabrands said the American Association of AdvertisingAgencies has adopted its 10 principles on media responsibility.

Nine social media platforms agreed to participate in the newindex. Mediabrands said it saw improvements industry-wide fromthe first half of 2020.

Facebook showed improvements in clamping down on false andmisleading content, such as removing pages and groups related tothe QAnon conspiracy theory.

YouTube made no significant changes to misinformationpolicies, leading to a lower score in the category. However theplatform did focus more on efforts like improving children'swellbeing, which led to a bigger advancement in the categorythan peers, Mediabrands said.

Short-form video app TikTok made the biggest improvementsout of the nine social media platforms, taking steps likepartnering with outside companies to protect advertisers fromappearing next to unsuitable content, and giving users bettercontrol over the types of videos they see, said Elijah Harris,global head of social at Mediabrands agency Reprise.

Mediabrands' previous report found ad placements on TikTokwere at higher risk for so-called brand safety issues, butTikTok made improvements after "embracing our findings with openarms," Harris said.

Pinterest suspends accounts that continuouslyspread misinformation and Reddit prioritizes fact-checking forcategories like election and health content, which helped bothcompanies score the largest improvements in fighting false andmisleading content, Mediabrands said.

Mediabrands chose not to compile a final ranking of theplatforms against each other to avoid giving top-scoringcompanies a false sense that their work is done, said JoshuaLowcock, chief digital officer at IPG agency UM.

"We have a classroom of students who all need to workharder," he said. "There should be no proud parents here."(Reporting by Sheila DangEditing by Robert Birsel and David Gregorio)