Caitlin Fitzsimmons Online editor

Caitlin covers social media, marketing and technology and is BRW's social media editor. She has worked as a journalist in Sydney, London and San Francisco, writing for titles including The Guardian and The Australian Financial Review.

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Facebook bows to advertiser demand and blacklists more of its site from advertising

Published 01 July 2013 10:19, Updated 02 July 2013 10:27

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Facebook bows to advertiser demand and blacklists more of its site from advertising

Nissan canned its advertising on Facebook after its ads were placed next to content that promoted violence against women.

Updated | Facebook is excluding more of its site from displaying advertising to placate big brands after a furore over ads appearing on pages that promoted violence against women.

Facebook announced over the weekend it would manually review pages as of Monday to widen the scope of advertising-restricted content and look to introduce an automated system later on.

The advertising industry had lobbied for Facebook to change its system in the wake of ads appearing on pages that promote violence against women.

The chairman of media agency Starcom MediaVest Group in Australia, John Sintras, told BRW this was a positive development but Facebook still needed to go further.

“Content is dynamic and gets updated by the users all the time so you’ve always got to be reviewing it,” Sintras says. “I think you need a combination of people and algorithms because a lot of the time it’s contextual and the nuances are subtle.”

In recent months, Nissan and Unilever-owned Dove copped consumer backlash over their ads appearing on Facebook pages that promoted sexual assault and violence against women. Nissan canned its Facebook advertising in response.

Facebook originally allowed the pages under the “humour” category but bowed to an internet campaign and agreed to remove the pages at the end of May.

However, advertisers still sought reassurance that a similar event wouldn’t happen again, with WPP-owned MindShare and Publicis-owned Starcom MediaVest among the media agencies lobbying Facebook over the issue in the past month.

Facebook is to start the manual review process today and remove ads from any pages and groups that fall outside the new rules by the end of the week. For example, Facebook will now restrict ads from appearing next to pages and groups that contain any violent, graphic or sexual content, even if that content did not violate community standards.

“We know that marketers work hard to promote their brands, and we take their objectives seriously,” the Facebook statement says. “While we already have rigorous review and removal policies for content against our terms, we recognise we need to do more to prevent situations where ads are displayed alongside controversial pages and groups. So we are taking action.

“While these changes won’t have a meaningful impact on Facebook’s business, they will result in benefits to people and marketers,” the statement says.

Sintras says Starcom MediaVest would be reviewing which pages carried advertising on behalf of clients and giving feedback to Facebook. He says the topic was likely discussed when the agency’s global heads of digital and sales met with Facebook executives at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in June.

Previously, Facebook’s position was that it did not need to restrict ads on certain pages and groups because the advertisements followed individual users rather than being fixed to particular pages.

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