Facebook Banning Ads on Pages With Adult Content

Jul 1, 2013 7:00 AM PST

MENLO PARK, Calif. — Beginning today, Facebook is not permitting ads on its Pages and Groups that sell adult products or it deems as containing any violent, graphic or sexual content.

Before this change, the company said a Page selling adult products was eligible to have ads appear on its right-hand side.

The move was prompted by recent complaints from women’s and activists groups over gender-specific hate speech and rape that sparked brands to start pulling their ads from Facebook when they found them next to pages with this type of sexist content.

According to Women, Action, & the Media, in just one week, people have sent 57,000 tweets and 4,900 e-mails protests to companies whose advertisements were showing up on pages with vile material.

The pressure apparently forced the social media giant’s hand to make fast changes.

A Facebook statement read, “We know that marketers work hard to promote their brands, and we take their objectives seriously. 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."

Facebook also said it will manually search its pages and will remove questionable ads from all Pages and Groups that fall into this new, more expansive restricted list.

But in the near future, Facebook said it will adopt an automated tech solution to weed out controversial and objectionable material.

“All of this will improve detection of what qualifies as questionable content, which means we’ll do a better job making sure advertising messages appear next to brand-appropriate Pages and Groups. While these changes won't have a meaningful impact on Facebook's business, they will result in benefits to people and marketers,” Facebook said.

But Facebook faces the question of whether it will be objective in what it considers objectionable and just what constitutes sexual content when it comes to placing ads on its Pages.

In its Community Standards, Facebook says it “has a strict policy against the sharing of pornographic content and any explicitly sexual content where a minor is involved. We also impose limitations on the display of nudity. We aspire to respect people’s right to share content of personal importance, whether those are photos of a sculpture like Michelangelo's David or family photos of a child breastfeeding.”

Despite its published stance, Facebook would be well advised to get their tech solution up and running fast. Other online giants like YouTube continue to struggle over the porn vs. art question when a human’s possible subjective opinion is called in to make the final decision.

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