Porn and Dead Dogs: Facebook's New Look

by , Nov 15, 2011, 12:28 PM
  • Comment
  • Recommend (1)
Subscribe to Social Media & Marketing Daily

What’s not to like? Well, a lot actually. Facebook grabbed the world’s attention yet again yesterday, as millions of users reported seeing a variety of NSFW images appearing in their News Feeds including porn, dead animals, and “extreme violence,” courtesy of a widespread spam attack. The culprits are still unknown, but they likely took advantage of weak passwords or inserted malware in otherwise innocuous-seeming messages.

My initial reaction to all this was “so what?” Yes, Facebook users were forced to look at porn and gore, and of course that’s far from ideal, and Facebook is clearly embarrassed by the whole thing, but I imagine the unwitting victims will probably survive. But on further consideration it is actually a big deal for two main reasons.

The first reason is brand safety -- that bogeyman of the social media world, where the potential for untoward user-generated content has been making advertisers anxious for almost a decade now. During a panel discussion I moderated at OMMA Social in San Francisco last month, one of the main points of agreement among the assembled advertisers and media planners was that social media still can’t guarantee brand-safe environments with the degree of confidence offered by traditional media -- and quite possibly, never will.

While advertisers would be foolish to abandon Facebook for one slip-up, the fact is the recent porn-and-dead-dogs extravaganza is unlikely to be an anomalous one-off: if hackers did it once, they can probably do it again. Advertisers will have to develop a greater tolerance for non-brand-safe environments, or simply be more selective in their ad placements on Facebook. Given the extreme conservatism of big brands, I think the latter is more likely, which means Facebook will have to work harder to get ad dollars.

The second reason is that it probably wasn’t only adults (or teenagers) who were exposed to porn and dead dogs: just consider the recent, much-publicized survey by Harris Interactive which revealed that half of parents with 12-year-olds know that their children are on Facebook. What’s more, seven out of ten of these parents actually actively helped their children evade the security protocols meant to prevent anyone from under age 13 getting on the site.

Something for all you parents to think about the next time you see porn and dead dogs in your News Feed.

Be the first to comment on "Porn and Dead Dogs: Facebook's New Look"

Leave a Comment

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now

Recent Social Media & Marketing Daily Articles

» Social Media & Marketing Daily Archives