Facebook removing adverts from offensive posts is a band aid over a bullet wound
Following prolonged pressure from activists, campaigners and brands themselves, Facebook has announced a major revamp of its advertising systems in a bid to allay concerns about offensive content. And it couldn’t be more insulting.
Marks & Spencer, BSkyB and Dove were among a number of brands that threatened to – or indeed did – pull their Facebook advertising after complaints that ads had been placed on pages featuring offensive material.
The network now plans to remove advertising from many of its pages, and said that from today it will “implement a new process to determine which pages or groups should feature adverts alongside the content”.
Apparently, pages that feature any violent, graphic or sexual content will be advert-free, and according to one source, the site will create a ‘gold standard’ of around 10,000 pages suitable for adverts. In what a spokesman calls a ‘labor-intensive process’, subsequent pages will then be inspected with the view to being added to this list.
Now, just to be clear, the offensive material at the heart of the matter here is not ‘subject to interpretation’, nor is it deemed offensive by those that ‘can’t take a joke’. The nature of this content is genuinely shocking. Here’s just one grim example, complete with Dove advert.
There are literally hundreds – if not thousands – of similar images on Facebook, and the issue has been catapulted into the spotlight because much of this content is not deemed inappropriate enough to warrant removal. Meanwhile, artistic imagery, personal photographs and even some status updates are quickly being wiped by the site’s offense bot sweepers. This blog post demonstrates the hypocrisy of it all (NSFW-ish).
That Facebook is taking action to remove advertising from these gruesome pages is barely even a minor victory for campaigners. The site has merely taken steps to ensure a continued revenue stream from other brands that genuinely do care about the grim content that proliferates on the network.
If the company is willing to undertake such a ‘labor-intensive’ process to appease the masses, it’s focusing on entirely the wrong aspect of the debate. Forget the adverts, remove the content. And the labor involved would prove minimal, since there already exists an army of (rightly) disgruntled Facebookers that are, every day, reporting the content – but to no avail.
This advertising-centric announcement regarding the issue is a huge insult to the network’s social community. Facebook is simply putting a band aid over a bullet wound.