Stop supporting ‘hostile’ tabloid rhetoric, campaign urges mobile phone giants

Stop Funding Hate is urging leading UK mobile phone providers to halt advertising in newspapers that ‘promote hate’

Campaign group Stop Funding Hate has today launched a campaign urging EE, Vodafone, BT, Three, O2 and other UK mobile phone providers to stop advertising in The Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Express. Campaigners are asking them to ‘Start spreading love and #StopFundingHate’.

It comes within a week of The Sun newspaper publishing an article about Brexit and immigration by columnist Trevor Kavanagh in which he cited sexual abuse cases in Rotherham and suggested that “Muslims are a specific rather than a cultural problem”. Kavanagh concluded the piece by asking “What will we do about the Muslim problem?”.

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So far, more than 100 cross-party politicians have signed an open letter demanding action against what they describe as the use of “Nazi-like language” regarding the Muslim community.

“The scale of this week’s reaction to The Sun’s divisive article suggests that there is a growing movement of people who want to push back against this kind of hostile rhetoric, and reassert the need for empathy, unity and mutual respect,” said Richard Wilson, director of Stop Funding Hate.

The scale of reaction to The Sun’s article suggests there is a growing movement of people who want to reassert empathy, unity and mutual respect

Stop Funding Hate, which was founded in August 2016, calls on advertisers to boycott newspapers that promote ‘demonisation and division’. The project gained widespread media attention in November 2016 when Lego announced it would no longer run promotional giveaways with the Daily Mail.

Fiyaz Mughal, founder of the hate crime prevention charity Tell MAMA, said: “Headlines that are developed to sell papers and that malign whole communities have real and direct impacts. Advertisers need to realise that they are the lifeblood of these papers that are churning out such divisive material. Do they really want to be associated with such actions?”

Advertisers are the lifeblood of these papers who are churning out divisive material. Do they really want to be associated with such actions?

Above all, said Wilson, this is about core human values. “This new phase of the Stop Funding Hate campaign seeks to emphasise positive values: love, kindness, compassion and respect for others, whatever their religion, ethnicity, gender or sexuality.

“We believe that the overwhelming majority of people still support these basic principles, even if they seem to be coming under increasing attack.”

The campaign was launched on Facebook and Twitter with a video filmed by Stop Funding Hate campaigners using their mobile phones. Wilson and his small team are asking people to share the video and urge their mobile phone providers to rethink their advertising policy.

“The core message is that the power is in our hands,” said Wilson. “If we’re unhappy that our phone is helping to fund negative stories demonising Muslims, migrants and other groups, then we can also use that phone to do something positive about it.”

The campaign is being run in partnership with creative agency Mohawk, and Citizens UK’s migrant youth campaign group Stand Up Stand Out. It is also backed by the National Union of Students.


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