Business Technology

Friday 27 April 2018

Facebook to ban adverts on controversial pages

Olivia Goldhill

Facebook will remove any adverts next to potentially offensive material, under a new policy following pressure from high profile advertisers.

The change comes into effect today, with Facebook implementing a manual review process that will decide which pages should feature adverts.

Facebook already has a policy of removing certain offensive pages, such as those that feature hate speech or nudity.

But the new system will ban adverts on pages with any violent, graphic or sexual content, even if the page does not violate Facebook's community standards policy.

Facebook said: "Prior to this change, a page selling adult products was eligible to have ads appear on its right-hand side; now there will not be ads displayed next to this type of content."

In its announcement, Facebook said the process of reviewing potentially offensive pages would be manual at first, but the social networking company will soon build an automated system of removing ads.

Facebook said: "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."

The change comes after high profile companies including BSkyB, Marks & Spencer, Nissan and Nationwide cancelled all or part of their Facebook marketing campaigns over concerns about their adverts appearing next to offensive material.

Nissan and Nationwide both stopped their Facebook adverts following concerns about misogynistic content.

BSkyB suspended all of its advertising after an advert featuring an M&S voucher was placed next to offensive material. M&S also suspended part of its advertising, though both companies said the change was only temporary.

An M&S spokesperson said last week: "Marks & Spencer does not tolerate any inappropriate use or positioning of its brand and has very clear policies that govern where and how our brand is used.

"We take any suggestion that these policies are not being adhered to very seriously and always investigate them thoroughly.

"Our investigation has established that this issue very specifically relates to a form of marketing called retargeting which is based on the internet usage of the person viewing the pages.

"We are now working very closely with Facebook to understand the measures that they are taking to try and prevent this from happening again."

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