Regular readers of Wellthisiswhatithink will know that we have weighed in before about the disgraceful standards of material that Facebook allows to be posted on its pages.
In one case, companies dropped advertising because Facebook allows content that promotes violence against women while banning women’s health adverts, in another situation Facebook refused to remove content that jeopardised a police case against a rapist and murderer.
Anyhow: much as we enjoy using the platform in general, in our view, some of the content on the massively popular site is morally questionable, and quite possibly illegal in multiple domains.
And we remain of the view that they need to review their general terms of service urgently.
Especially as entirely innocent posters frequently get banned because someone tags their post as Spam merely because they disagree with it – a phenomenally common cause of complaint, against which there is no appeal that we can discern.
(If you don’t believe us, hop onto Facebook now and see if you can find a link to customer service that doesn’t just direct you to a bland series of FAQs, or even, yet, a customer service email address or – gasp – phone number. If you make any progress, let us know …)
In fact, Facebook is now so large that they seem to handle such matters automatically by computer rather than with human intervention, and in our experience there is no way to get such bans rescinded.
So much for free speech.
I have seen complaints of such bans from all sides of the political and social spectrum, from extreme left to extreme right and everything in between, and from non-political posters who simply add material that someone or something in Facebook apparently decides is offensive.
Many posters simply migrate to a different Facebook name in order to keep posting, (the same problem afflicts Twitter), and it’s clear the problem needs resolving urgently.
If someone comes up with a social network with real customer service Facebook and Twitter will go the way of MySpace and others, taking investors with them. Anyhow, here’s the story of one lump of pressure against Facebook that did win out – because it targeted their revenues, of course.
Facebook removes ads from controversial pages to avoid boycott
Some recent consumer pressure on FB advertisers has produced rapid and meaningful results.
What is becoming increasingly fascinating to me, having spent a lifetime in marketing, is how social media pressure can now bend corporations – even bend social media providers – to its will, and with some ease.
Clearly, the days of companies blithely acting in defiance of popular will are declining.
This from the Technology correspondent of the BBC:
Facebook has announced a major revamp of its advertising systems in an attempt to deal with concerns about offensive content.
There will now be new restrictions on where adverts appear on the site.
Marks and Spencer and BSkyB were among companies to suspend advertising after complaints that adverts had been placed on pages with offensive material.
The social network is now planning to remove any advertising from many of its pages.
Facebook’s move follows complaints about a Sky advert promoting an M&S voucher.
The advert was placed on a Facebook page called “cute and gay boys”. The page featured photographs of teenage boys.
In a blogpost on Friday, Facebook said: “We recognize we need to do more to prevent situations where ads are displayed alongside controversial Pages and Groups. So we are taking action.”
The company said that from Monday it will implement a new process to determine which pages or groups should feature adverts alongside the content.
There will be no adverts on pages that feature any violent, graphic or sexual content, even if such content is not in violation of the company’s rules.
According to one source, Facebook will create a “gold standard” of around 10,000 pages that are deemed suitable for adverts, and then inspect other pages to see if they can be added to the list. All adverts will be removed from other pages.
A spokesman said this would be a labour-intensive process but we take this” very seriously.”
BskyB said it looked forward to discussing the new measures and would keep the situation under review.
M&S had asked BSkyB to remove the advert, and it suspended some of its own advertising campaigns on Facebook.
BSkyB suspended all of its advertising on the social network, where it has been a major customer.
Both companies had said they were keen to use Facebook again, but needed to be sure that their advertising would not appear next to offensive content, or material that might reflect poorly on their brands.
Speaking before Facebook announced its policy change, a spokesman for BSkyB told the BBC: “We have asked Facebook to devise safeguards to ensure our content does not appear alongside inappropriate material in the future.
“We will review the situation in due course.”
Sources at Marks and Spencer said Facebook had been taking the issue very seriously at the highest level.
In an additional statement, an M&S spokeswoman said the company did not “tolerate any inappropriate use or positioning of its brand and has very clear policies that govern where and how our brand is used”.
She added: “We take any suggestion that these policies are not being adhered to very seriously and always investigate them thoroughly.”
Earlier this month, Facebook was forced to act against misogynist content on its site after protests from women’s groups led some advertisers to suspend campaigns.
Now: if we can just get rid of Rush Limbaugh …
Facebook hate speech row: Sky joins ad boycott (guardian.co.uk)