When British media giant BSkyB pulled their advertising from Facebook because their ads were appearing next to offensive content, many media critics took notice. It was a substantial shot across Facebook’s bow, and it indicated for the first time that corporations, not just individuals, were fed up with Facebook’s tolerance of offensive content. Facebook responded today, announcing a new policy that will review ad placement on the site and make sure that companies’ marketing content isn’t appearing alongside explicit or controversial pages.
“We know that marketers work hard to promote their brands, and we take their objectives seriously,” Facebook wrote in their statement. “While we already have rigorous review and removal policies for content against our terms, we recognize we need to do more to prevent situations where ads are displayed alongside controversial Pages and Groups. So we are taking action.”
While Facebook’s efforts to protect advertisers is understandable (it is their revenue stream, after all), the site makes no mention of working to remove the offensive content itself. Instead, they promise only to ensure ads don’t appear next to controversy. For activist groups like WAM, who sent an open letter to Facebook last month demanding they respond promptly to racially or sexually offensive content, this can only be seen as a disappointment. By jumping to the defense of its advertisers so quickly, Facebook has shown just where its allegiances lay.
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