MRC Asked To Audit Facebook Policies, Brand Safety Controls

Besieged by a rapidly expanding advertising boycott, Facebook on Monday outlined additional measures designed to protect brands on its platform.

With the help of the Media Rating Council (MRC), Facebook will evaluate its partner and content monetization policies and the brand-safety controls it makes available to advertisers -- although the audit likely won't emerge for at least six months.

Among the provisions of the MRC’s standard are enforcement requirements to be followed when content is determined to violate the “floor” for brand safety. Below this floor, which is defined by the 4As, such content should not be monetized for advertising at all.

“The point of the audit is to evaluate the effectiveness of Facebook’s methods for ensuring that advertisers are protected across Facebook’s platforms against having their ads placed in proximity to content they deem inappropriate. And, that these methods comply with our industry minimum standards for brand-safety practices,” George Ivie, CEO-executive director of the The MRC, said on Monday.



Ivie said the MRC and Facebook had been in discussions for more than a year about auditing its brand-safety protocols.

The timeline for the audit is undetermined, in part, because the MRC and Facebook have yet to execute a formal agreement for the audit, Ivie said. “Our best estimate is approximately six months, maybe slightly longer,” he said.

The MRC issued industry standards for brand safety in 2018, which built upon prior work it did in creating standards for ad verification practices. 

For Facebook, news of the audit comes amid a growing boycott by advertisers over what they consider to be its failure to curb President Trump and other messengers of hate.

As of Monday, the list of advertisers committed to temporarily suspending advertising in the U.S. on Facebook-owned properties included Microsoft, Starbucks, Diageo, Coca-Cola, Verizon, Unilever, Ford Motor Co., Honda America, The North Face, Ben & Jerry’s and Levi’s.  

That’s despite Facebook's move last Friday to modify some of its content policies, including adding labeling posts from influential figures that violate its standard content policies.

2 comments about "MRC Asked To Audit Facebook Policies, Brand Safety Controls".
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  1. Tony Jarvis from Olympic Media Consultancy, June 30, 2020 at 2:37 p.m.

    On the one hand this MRC initiative could be applauded.  However on the other hand, is this too little too late and too dangerous for MRC especially when Facebook is a member of MRC!!!? 
    Fakebook and Mark Zuckerberg have built a consistent track record of delay, obfuscation, interminable delays and minimal policy decisions to ensure they still reap in the $billions to their communications "sewer" (per Joe Scarborough). 
    MRC must be reminded that a UK Parliamentary Committee report called FB "digital gangsters".  MZ was ultimately a no show to this Commitee therby delaying their final report by close to 6 months.   And remember Cambridge Analytica?
    When, and only when, Facebook is removed as an MRC member should MRC even consider  this project.  And then it should immediatley reject "helping" this toxic pariah. 
    George:  Don't be played by FB like they have done with so many other terrific organisations.  If you follow this advice I suggest you will be in the best of company.  MRC's many advertiser members will be applauding!  And, some current non-members from all over the ad and media industry will be enthusiastically joining MRC.  Next? 

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, June 30, 2020 at 3:29 p.m.

    Another point about an "audit" of this sort. Many people misinterpret such "audits" as endorsements or verifications of accuracy---especially in audience surveys. While I am all in favor of MRC and its past performance in this regard, what is really being done is auditing a party to see if it is actually doing what it says it is doing---and doing so in a proper manner. So if FB passes such a test---and I'm sure that it will be a fair one---even if FB remains an MRC member---that does not necessarily mean that what is being done is the right thing. It's a start in that direction---but is not to be taken as an independent judgement that the problem at issue is really being solved or dealt with effectively.

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