, ,

We previously reported on Google’s struggles to reassure advertisers on its site that their carefully crafted brand image and message would not appear next to unpleasant, salacious, or rude content. But of course, Google is not the only well-known name grappling with these issues, and Facebook thus has emerged with its own response to the problem.

The new set of rules that Facebook issued, regarding which kinds of content it will ban from advertising, are very similar to Google’s guidelines. If the content being advertised is violent, gory, filled with drug use or foul language, or depicting real-life tragedies for example, the advertisement may no longer appear on Facebook. These rules apply immediately to videos on the social media site; it plans to extend them to articles as well.

To enforce these rules, Facebook plans to hire thousands of new workers who will manually comb through content to find objectionable material. They are supported by technology that promises to do the same thing but that struggles with questions of context.

Facebook’s announcement also comes in the midst of widespread allegations and evidence that foreign sources used fake accounts to purchase and air misleading, inaccurate advertising during the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign. The scandal continues to unfold, but the company’s potential participation (even if unbeknownst to it) in questionable political activity and international intrigue likely prompted it to act more quickly in issuing the new rules.

At the same time, Facebook is working to improve its ability to show legitimate advertisers where their marketing communications will appear. With a preview function, advertisers can get a sense of where their advertisements are likely to appear, then block or reject any types of sites that they might find objectionable, before the campaign actually runs.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Is it Facebook’s responsibility to prevent advertisements for objectionable or questionable content?
  2. How should objectionable or questionable content be defined?

Source: Sapna Maheshwari, “Facebook Moves to Keep Ads from Running on Objectionable Videos,” The New York Times, September 13, 2017