Facebook pulls ads from controversial pages after protest

SOCIAL FALLOUT::After a protest led major firms to drop advertising, the social network is tightening rules as it seeks to balance user freedom with ad revenues

AP, MENLO PARK, California

Mon, Jul 01, 2013 - Page 15

Facebook Inc is pulling advertisements from pages that contain violence or sexual content.

The social network said that it plans today to expand its definition of pages and groups that are too controversial to carry advertisements.

Facebook has sought a balance between giving its 1.1 billion users the freedom to post what they want and providing advertisers with space to sell their products.

In May, Facebook lost more than a dozen advertisers, at least temporarily, after the activist group Women, Action and the Media urged an advertising boycott to protest hate speech on the site. The controversial content included grisly photographs and mottos that encouraged rape, abuse and other violence against women.

The company said then that it would review its guidelines, update training for employees and increase accountability for those who post such matter.

It also said it would work more closely with women’s groups.

Some of the companies that initially pulled their ads — including automaker Nissan and the car-sharing service Zipcar — said then that they were pleased with Facebook’s response.

Facebook had already banned ads on certain pages.

The new policy will expand on the categories affected by the ban. In the past, a company selling adult-themed products could have ads running on the right side of the page, for instance.

Those pages will be ad-free starting today.

“We recognize we need to do more to prevent situations where ads are displayed alongside controversial Pages and Groups,” the company said in a statement on Friday. “So we are taking action.”

Facebook will continue to remove entire pages if they are deemed to violate its terms of service. The new policy covers pages that are permitted, but controversial.

Facebook said the new restrictions would not have a meaningful impact on its business.