Will Facebook’s New Scheme Appeal to Advertisers?


Free speech has always made the Internet a volatile space. For Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), decisions on what content is acceptable and which isn’t have never been simple. Now, there is money at stake, as companies have shown more concern about where their advertisements show up.

Early this year, the U.K. unit of Nissan Motor Co. and Nationwide Building Society, a lender, decided to pull their advertisements off of Facebook because they had determined the site was allowing content that encourage the abuse of women. Though they only suspended the ads, it was a warning signal to Facebook.

The rationale behind pulling ads in those instances is clear. It may do damage to a business if advertisements are placed on Facebook pages with questionable content. Though pornographic content is not permitted on the popular social network, some pages or groups do host racist, sexual, and violent content. This sort of content tends not to make for a favorable juxtaposition with most companies’ advertisements.

The situation is a tricky one for Facebook. It is vital that Facebook keep companies interested in advertising on its site, but the site also has a need to uphold free speech for its users. In a sense, the situation pits users against advertisers.

Luckily, Facebook seems to have found a way to navigate the dilemma. In a post, the social network said “Our goal is to both preserve the freedoms of sharing on Facebook but also protect people and brands from certain types of content.” Additionally, they suggested a new system to “improve detection of what qualifies as questionable content,” which could please companies looking to advertise.

With questionable content identified, Facebook will go further to keep ads from appearing on pages that feature any of the illicit content. In this way, advertising companies will be able to breathe easy knowing that their names won’t be so easily tarnished by appearing next to violent, sexual, or offensive content.

Advertising holds particular importance to Facebook, but this matter may still not be of utmost concern. From July 1, the plan to separate ads and illicit content will begin. However, Facebook claimed there won’t be a “meaningful impact on Facebook’s business” as a result of the changes to the advertising system.

Mobile advertising is likely more of a concern for Facebook. Not every company out there has been complaining about the current advertising system. But, the growth in the mobile industry is something that Facebook and companies advertising through Facebook can’t ignore. The new system may help keep more advertisers pleased with Facebook, but strength in mobile advertising could hold heavy appeal for advertisers and bring extra revenue to the social network.

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