Facebook on Friday announced a new policy barring advertising from sections of the site with controversial content.
Beginning on Monday, the social network said it will undertake a new review process to determine which Pages and Groups should feature ads alongside their content under a broader set of guidelines. “By the end of the week, we will remove ads from all Pages and Groups that fall into this new, more expansive restricted list,” the company stated in a blog post.
Specifically, the new policy will ban ads from appearing next to any “violent, graphic or sexual content,” even if that material doesn't violate community standards. Ads that previously ran on the right side of Pages featuring adult products, for example, will no longer appear there.
The move comes in the wake of a May campaign by a coalition of women’s groups aimed at drawing attention to Facebook pages that promoted violence against women. The effort led to a dozen advertisers, including Nissan U.K. and Nationwide, pulling their ads from Facebook. Last week, News Corp.-owned TV service BSkyB also yanked its ads from the social network after they appeared next to inappropriate content.
Facebook in late May said it would review its policies for removing offensive material in response to the outcry over pages glorifying violence against women. The company has said it restricts only content it deems “directly harmful,” or advocating real-world violence, theft, property destruction, or bullying of individuals.
But while Facebook has allowed content that is offensive and controversial, that doesn’t necessarily mean advertisers want their brands associated with it. Now the scope of ad-restricted material is likely to expand well beyond pages containing hate speech against groups or foul language.
“This move sends a strong message to marketers that Facebook is listening to their concerns and moves rapidly to protect the integrity of their advertising,” said Jamie Tedford, CEO of Facebook ad partner Brand Networks.
While the process will be manual at first, Facebook said it will develop a more automated system in the coming weeks to prevent or remove ads from appearing alongside controversial content. “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 company stated.