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Facebook Pulls Advertisements From “Controversial” Pages

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After being approached by multiple advertisers who found that their ads were being featured on pages that conflict with their corporate image (pages with sex and violence), Facebook has announced that it will be pulling advertising from pages that could be considered controversial.

From Geeks are Sexy:

The changes involve pages with “violent, graphic or sexual content” that are not violations of Facebook’s terms and conditions, but aren’t particularly ad-friendly. In recent weeks several high-profile businesses have suspended or threatened to withdraw their advertising from the site after ads appeared on pages they considered unsuitable for their brand.

For example, Sky (a British broadcaster) came to Facebook after finding that an ad for coupons for an associated store chain showed up on a page full of images called “cute and gay boys”. Now, acknowledging the homophobia inherent in that complaint, it is worth noting that this sort of page may be “controversial”; but it is not violent, hateful, or offensive.

[Pages such as the “cute gay boys” one in question] may be unsuitable for the brands (and did prompt the firms to suspend advertising), but which neither company will have wanted to deem “offensive” in a public statement.

So Sky doesn’t want to be implicated as a homophobic institution, but does want their stuff taken off of a page. Makes you wonder how they would feel if it was a page full of “cute girls” their ad had been featured on.

I digress. There is an important distinction to be made between what Facebook considers “controversial” material versus hate speech, threats of violence, et cetera. In the past, the social media giant has claimed it would begin to police these things more closely, but its’ reaction (or lack thereof) to people flagging and reporting offensive content continues to disappoint.

The subjectivity inherent in trying to parse what is “objectionable” certainly makes the whole situation a lot more difficult. Supposedly, Facebook is going to pull advertising from all pages except for 10,000 that are already known to be “safe”, and then start vetting pages (at first manually, then automatically) to ascertain whether or not they should feature ads on that page.

Chances are that Facebook’s precious advertisement profit won’t be affected much. Facebook will still have the same number of ads, but on a smaller range of pages.

On the one hand, Facebook is certainly dragging its heels on taking down offensive content even with the revenue-driving advertisers pressuring them. The fact that they didn’t even begin to work on this until their advertisers began pushing them is reveals their motivations.

On the other hand, Facebook is giving itself more incentive to start looking into controversial material and now has less reason to keep the pages in question up (because they will not be making money off of them). So maybe something good will come of it?

In conclusion: Facebook, pull yourself together.

(via Geeks Are Sexy)

Previously in Social Media Controversies

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