Other Group

Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM)

Website:

wfanet.org/leadership/garm/about-garm

Status:

Project of the World Federation of Advertisers

Type:

Advertising Association

Formation:

2019

Initiative Lead:

Rob Rakowitz

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Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) is a cross-industry initiative established by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) to address the impacts of purportedly harmful content on digital media platforms and in digital advertising. 1

A flagship project of the World Economic Forum, 2 GARM’s leadership seek to “tamp down” on content that challenges what it calls “brand safety,” 3 a concept that has been described as censorship. 4 5 6 The organization works to ensure that no one whom it deems as bad actors has access to advertiser funding 7 8 and supports artificial intelligence (AI) that can identify and block what GARM identifies as “harmful content.” 9 GARM also works to measure and restrict online discussion on topics it classifies as “debated sensitive social issues.” 10

In May 2023, U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) subpoenaed records from GARM lead and co-founder Robert Rakowitz regarding GARM’s alleged efforts to eliminate disfavored content online. 11

History and Leadership

Global Alliance for Responsible Media was launched in 2019 in Cannes, France, by members of the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA). 12 13 GARM is officially chartered by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) and reports to the WFA Executive Committee, which is made up of global marketers and national advertiser associations. 14

GARM’s 16 inaugural members included WFA, social media platform Facebook, technology company Google and its video subsidiary YouTube, social media company Twitter, Mobile Marketing Association, and others. 15 GARM has been a flagship project of the World Economic Forum (WEF) since at least November 2019. 16

Rob Rakowitz is the initiative lead for the Global Alliance for Responsible Media. 17 18 Rakowitz has said he is concerned about users being exposed to “unsafe” content online and that a lack of safety online is squandering the Internet’s capacity to educate, serve, and connect. Rakowitz has said that he does not want GARM to underwrite “questionable areas that challenge our roles in society” and that he wants to “tamp down” on the amplification, acceleration, or connectedness of online content GARM deems “unsafe.” 19

Activities

At its launch, Global Alliance for Responsible Media was the first consortium of advertisers, agency holding companies, and media platform companies to approach challenges to the advertising industry. GARM founder Rob Rakowitz has said GARM aims to find “solutions” to improve what he calls “consumer safety” and online brand safety, 20 practices that have referred to as censorship. 21 22 23 Using this information, GARM seeks to ensure that no one whom it deems as bad actors have access to advertiser funding. 24 25

GARM was formed in an effort for its members to collaborate actions, processes, and protocols to identify actions that can create an environment to challenge the legally undefined concepts of hate speech, disinformation, bullying and other items online. The organization has used the concept of child online safety to promote online censorship 26 and seeks to act as a forum to collaborate with providers to remove what GARM classifies as harmful content from advertiser-supported social media. 27

GARM is also concerned about trust on digital media and so-called “fake news.” The organization has said it wants to find engineers to create and distribute artificial intelligence (AI) that can identify and block what GARM considers as harmful content. 28

GARM has four different working groups: standards and definitions, adjacency standards and controls, measurement and oversight, and independent verification. 29

In 2022, GARM joined the Brand Safety Institute’s Brand Safety Week as a founding partner 30 and added the ambiguous concept of misinformation to online content it deems inappropriate for advertising support. 31 GARM periodically releases an industry report measuring brand safety performance across social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. 32 These reports also measure interaction on “debated sensitive social issues,” which GARM classifies as “insensitive, irresponsible and harmful treatment of debated social issues and related acts that demean a particular group or incite great conflict.”  33

In 2021, GARM launched a measurement for digital brand safety which is used to chart progress on removing harmful content from ad-supported media. Partners in this endeavor included the World Economic Forum’s Platform for Shaping the Future of Media, Entertainment and Sport, NBCUniversal, MSNBC, Facebook, and Google. 34 GARM has also used advertisers to push for the concept of safety of online environments towards what the group calls “sustainability of media.” 35

In May 2023, U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) subpoenaed records from GARM lead and co-founder Robert Rakowitz and WFA president Raja Rajamannar regarding GARM’s efforts to eliminate disfavored content online. 36

Membership

Global Alliance for Responsible Media is a cross-industry initiative established by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) to address the impacts of what GARM identifies as harmful content on digital media platforms and monetization via advertising. 37 GARM has been a flagship project of the World Economic Forum’s Platform For Shaping the Future of Media, Entertainment and Culture. 38

Through its partnership with WEF, GARM claims to “improve the safety of digital environments, addressing harmful and misleading media while protecting consumers and brands.” GARM also uses WEF’s network to advocate for “digital safety” to create what GARM calls a healthier media ecosystem. WEF also uses GARM to aggregate solutions to major industry disruptions while driving what it identifies as social cohesion and helping companies remain accountable to its vision of a global social good. 39

Global Alliance for Responsible Media members include American Express, Association of National Advertisers, Brand Safety Institute, Coalition for Better Ads, social media company Meta (formerly Facebook), Microsoft, the Mobile Marketing Association, social media company TikTok, Trustworthy Accountability Group, social networking service Twitter, retailer Walmart, Google video platform YouTube, World Federation of Advertisers, and others. 40

GARM membership is open to advertisers, ad-tech partners, media agencies, media platforms, and industry associations. The group is also engaged with outside influence groups and consults with, Amnesty International, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the left-leaning Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Journalism Trust Initiative, and others. 41

Controversy

In July 2024, founder of media outlet “Daily Wire” Ben Shapiro spoke at a House Judiciary Committee hearing titled “Collusion in the Global Alliance for Responsible Media” in which he claimed GARM’s efforts were censoring conservative speech online. In his opening statement, Shapiro claimed that GARM acts like a cartel while alleging “Its members account for 90% of ad spending in the United States, almost a trillion dollars. In other words, if you’re not getting ad dollars from GARM members, it’s nearly impossible to run an ad-based business. And if you’re not following their preferred political narratives…you will not be deemed brand safe. Your business will be throttled.” 42 43 Shapiro also claimed that GARM’s criteria for “brand safety standards” on restricting content considered “Hate speech,” “Harassment,” “Misinformation” and “insensitive;” “irresponsible” and “harmful” treatment of “debated sensitive social issues;” 44 is “highly subjective in theory. And…purely partisan in practice.” 45 He further called on Congress to, “investigate the informal and perhaps formal arrangements between censorship cartels like GARM and executive branch agencies,” while claiming Congress itself must stop violating “free speech principles.” 46 47

References

  1. “GARM and Brand Safety.” Brand Safety Institute. Accessed May 27, 2023. https://www.brandsafetyinstitute.com/resources/topics/garm-framework-standards.
  2. “Global Alliance for Responsible Media.” World Federation of Advertisers. Accessed May 23, 2023. https://wfanet.org/leadership/garm/about-garm.
  3. “What is the Global Alliance for Responsible Media?” WFA YouTube. Posted July 3, 2019. Accessed May 24, 2023. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTCWiLKGGJ0.
  4. [1] Knox, Liam. “Brand Protection or Censorship?” Inside Higher Ed. April 14, 2023. Accessed May 27, 2023. https://www.insidehighered.com/news/students/free-speech/2023/04/14/brand-protection-or-censorship.
  5. Kirkpatrick, David. “YouTube faces new brand safety controversy.” Marketing Dive. November 27, 2017. Accessed May 27, 2023. https://www.marketingdive.com/news/youtube-faces-new-brand-safety-controversy/511621/.
  6. Derico, Ben. “Musk feuds with Apple over Twitter advertising.” BBC. November 28, 2022. Accessed May 27, 2023. https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-63788437.
  7. Murphy, David. “Global Alliance for Responsible Media pledges action on harmful online content.” Mobile Marketing. January 22, 2020. Accessed May 27, 2023. https://mobilemarketingmagazine.com/global-alliance-for-responsible-media-pledges. m,  n nvaction-on-harmful-online-content.
  8. Rody, Bree. “Global Alliance for Responsible Media lays out its plans.” Media in Canada. January 24, 2020. Accessed May 27, 2023. https://mediaincanada.com/2020/01/24/global-alliance-for-responsible-media-lays-out-its-plans/.
  9. “A guide to the ‘The Global Alliance for Responsible Media’| Marketing Media Money.” CNBC International TV YouTube Channel. Uploaded June 20, 2019. Accessed May 24, 2023. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6T3v03u0g0.
  10. “GARM Aggregated Measurement Report Vol. 3.” World Federation of Advertisers. Accessed May 27, 2023. https://wfanet.org/l/library/download/urn:uuid:04b28132-5395-40fb-99f1-b2bbdad86531/garm+aggregated+measurement+report+vol+3+may+2022.pdf?format=save_to_disk
  11. Chaitin, Daniel. “Jordan’s House Panel Takes Aim At WEF-Backed Scheme To Censor ‘Harmful’ Online Content.” U.S. House Judiciary Committee. May 5, 2023. Accessed May 27, 2023. https://judiciary.house.gov/media/in-the-news/jordans-house-panel-takes-aim-wef-backed-scheme-censor-harmful-online-content.
  12. “Global Alliance For Responsible Media Launches To Address Digital Safety.” ANA Driving Growth. June 18, 2019. Accessed May 24, 2023. https://www.ana.net/content/show/id/pr-2019-garm-safety.
  13. “The Global Alliance is creating a safe media ecosystem.” World Economic Forum. Accessed May 24, 2023. https://www.weforum.org/impact/media-alliance-scales-up/.
  14.  “GARM Members.” World Federation of Advertisers. Accessed May 27, 2023. https://wfanet.org/leadership/garm/members-governance.
  15. “Global Alliance For Responsible Media Launches To Address Digital Safety.” ANA Driving Growth. June 18, 2019. Accessed May 24, 2023. https://www.ana.net/content/show/id/pr-2019-garm-safety.
  16.  “GARM Aggregated Measurement Report Vol. 4.” World Federation of Advertisers. Accessed May 24, 2023. https://wfanet.org/leadership/garm/about-garm.
  17. “What is the Global Alliance for Responsible Media?” WFA YouTube. Posted July 3, 2019. Accessed May 24, 2023. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTCWiLKGGJ0.
  18. “Rob Rakowitz.” LinkedIn Profile. Accessed May 24, 2023. https://www.linkedin.com/in/rnrakowitz/.
  19. “What is the Global Alliance for Responsible Media?” WFA YouTube. Posted July 3, 2019. Accessed May 24, 2023. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTCWiLKGGJ0
  20. “What is the Global Alliance for Responsible Media?” WFA YouTube. Posted July 3, 2019. Accessed May 24, 2023. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTCWiLKGGJ0.
  21. Knox, Liam. “Brand Protection or Censorship?” Inside Higher Ed. April 14, 2023. Accessed May 27, 2023. https://www.insidehighered.com/news/students/free-speech/2023/04/14/brand-protection-or-censorship.
  22. Kirkpatrick, David. “YouTube faces new brand safety controversy.” Marketing Dive. November 27, 2017. Accessed May 27, 2023. https://www.marketingdive.com/news/youtube-faces-new-brand-safety-controversy/511621/.
  23. Derico, Ben. “Musk feuds with Apple over Twitter advertising.” BBC. November 28, 2022. Accessed May 27, 2023. https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-63788437.
  24. Murphy, David. “Global Alliance for Responsible Media pledges action on harmful online content.” Mobile Marketing. January 22, 2020. Accessed May 27, 2023. https://mobilemarketingmagazine.com/global-alliance-for-responsible-media-pledges-action-on-harmful-online-content.
  25. Rody, Bree. “Global Alliance for Responsible Media lays out its plans.” Media in Canada. January 24, 2020. Accessed May 27, 2023. https://mediaincanada.com/2020/01/24/global-alliance-for-responsible-media-lays-out-its-plans/.
  26. “What is the Global Alliance for Responsible Media?” WFA YouTube. Posted July 3, 2019. Accessed May 24, 2023. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTCWiLKGGJ0.
  27.  “Global Alliance for Responsible Media.” World Federation of Advertisers. Accessed May 17, 2023. https://wfanet.org/leadership/garm/about-garm.
  28. “A guide to the ‘The Global Alliance for Responsible Media’| Marketing Media Money.” CNBC International TV YouTube Channel. Uploaded June 20, 2019. Accessed May 24, 2023. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6T3v03u0g0.
  29. “Global Alliance for Responsible Media.” World Federation of Advertisers. Accessed May 17, 2023. https://wfanet.org/leadership/garm/about-garm.
  30. “Highlights from Brand Safety Week 2022.” Brand Safety Institute. November 1, 2022. Accessed May 27, 2023. https://www.brandsafetyinstitute.com/events/brand-safety-week-2022/bsi-recap.
  31. “NewsGuard Offers Targeted Services, Free Audits to Help Brands Meet new GARM Misinformation Standards.” NewsGuard. June 30, 2022. https://www.newsguardtech.com/press/newsguard-offers-targeted-services-free-audits-to-help-brands-meet-new-garm-misinformation-standards/.
  32. “GARM Aggregated Measurement Report Vol. 3.” World Federation of Advertisers. Accessed May 27, 2023. https://wfanet.org/l/library/download/urn:uuid:04b28132-5395-40fb-99f1-b2bbdad86531/garm+aggregated+measurement+report+vol+3+may+2022.pdf?format=save_to_disk.
  33. “GARM Aggregated Measurement Report Vol. 3.” World Federation of Advertisers. Accessed May 27, 2023. https://wfanet.org/l/library/download/urn:uuid:04b28132-5395-40fb-99f1-b2bbdad86531/garm+aggregated+measurement+report+vol+3+may+2022.pdf?format=save_to_disk.
  34. “The Global Alliance is creating a safe media ecosystem.” World Economic Forum. Accessed May 24, 2023. https://www.weforum.org/impact/media-alliance-scales-up/.
  35. “Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM).” World Economic Forum. Accessed May 23, 2023. https://www.weforum.org/projects/global-alliance-for-responsible-media-garm#:~:text=The%20goal%20is%20to%20accelerate,trustworthiness%2C%20and%20sustainability%20of%20media.
  36. Chaitin, Daniel. “Jordan’s House Panel Takes Aim At WEF-Backed Scheme To Censor ‘Harmful’ Online Content.” U.S. House Judiciary Committee. May 5, 2023. Accessed May 27, 2023. https://judiciary.house.gov/media/in-the-news/jordans-house-panel-takes-aim-wef-backed-scheme-censor-harmful-online-content.
  37. “GARM and Brand Safety.” Brand Safety Institute. Accessed May 27, 2023. https://www.brandsafetyinstitute.com/resources/topics/garm-framework-standards.
  38. “Global Alliance for Responsible Media.” World Federation of Advertisers. Accessed May 23, 2023. https://wfanet.org/leadership/garm/about-garm.
  39. “The Global Alliance is creating a safe media ecosystem.” World Economic Forum. Accessed May 24, 2023. https://www.weforum.org/impact/media-alliance-scales-up/.
  40.  “GARM Members.” World Federation of Advertisers. Accessed May 27, 2023. https://wfanet.org/leadership/garm/members-governance.
  41. “GARM Members.” World Federation of Advertisers. Accessed May 27, 2023. https://wfanet.org/leadership/garm/members-governance.
  42. “Ben Shapiro: “Global Alliance For Responsible Media” Acts As A Cartel Controlling 90% Of Ad Spending The U.S.” Real Clear Politics, July 11, 2024. https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2024/07/11/ben_shapiro_global_alliance_for_responsible_media_acts_as_a_cartel_controlling_90_of_ad_spending_the_us.html
  43. The Vigilant Fox (@VigilantFox). “Watch Ben Shapiro Tear into Censorship Cartel in Fiery Congressional Testimony.” X, July 10, 2024. https://x.com/vigilantfox/status/1811056137640530235?s=46
  44. “Ben Shapiro: “Global Alliance For Responsible Media” Acts As A Cartel Controlling 90% Of Ad Spending The U.S.” Real Clear Politics, July 11, 2024. https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2024/07/11/ben_shapiro_global_alliance_for_responsible_media_acts_as_a_cartel_controlling_90_of_ad_spending_the_us.html
  45. “Ben Shapiro: “Global Alliance For Responsible Media” Acts As A Cartel Controlling 90% Of Ad Spending The U.S.” Real Clear Politics, July 11, 2024. https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2024/07/11/ben_shapiro_global_alliance_for_responsible_media_acts_as_a_cartel_controlling_90_of_ad_spending_the_us.html
  46. “Ben Shapiro: “Global Alliance For Responsible Media” Acts As A Cartel Controlling 90% Of Ad Spending The U.S.” Real Clear Politics, July 11, 2024. https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2024/07/11/ben_shapiro_global_alliance_for_responsible_media_acts_as_a_cartel_controlling_90_of_ad_spending_the_us.html
  47. The Vigilant Fox (@VigilantFox). “Watch Ben Shapiro Tear into Censorship Cartel in Fiery Congressional Testimony.” X, July 10, 2024. https://x.com/vigilantfox/status/1811056137640530235?s=46
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