Facebook to remove ads from offensive pages

If you go to Facebook today, you’ll find more content with no ads next to it. Why? It’s deemed controversial by the site, and advertisers don’t want any part of it.

Here’s the kind of content that Facebook says will go ad-less as of today:

“These were representations, photographs mainly, of women being drugged to be raped, of women being beaten,” says Soraya Chemaly, an activist writer who joined a campaign against these images on the Facebook site. “Women at the bottoms of stairs with captions like ‘next time don’t get pregnant.’”

Facebook made its changes following the activist campaign Chemaly joined, and after advertisers like Nissan and Dove found their logos next to what they considered dodgy images. In the past, Facebook had allowed specific adult product ads next to “violent, graphic or sexual content.” Now, such content will go without ads.

For social-media websites, this represents a broader juggling act to accommodate users’ freedom of speech and advertisers’ need to protect their brand reputations.

“Facebook tends to represent everyman,” says Roger Kay at Endpoint Technologies. “And so the content has to converge on what is acceptable by the general public.”

For now, Facebook is screening for objectionable content manually. Eventually, the company plans to automate the process. The change covers content that is permitted, but controversial. Another category of content -- deemed to violate Facebook’s terms of service -- is banned entirely.

About the author

Scott Tong is a correspondent for Marketplace’s sustainability desk, with a focus on energy, environment, resources, climate, supply chain and the global economy.

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