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Facebook restricts ads running next to dodgy posts

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Facebook has begun preventing ads from running alongside controversial material - such as sexual, graphic or violent content - posted by users of the social network.

The free content ad network confirmed on Friday that it would begin protecting brands that advertise on Facebook from being displayed on pages and groups carrying dodgy opinions, or links to porn.

It comes after a number of high-profile companies yanked their ads from the Mark Zuckerberg-run network over concerns that their brand was tarnished by the material it ran parallel to.

In recent weeks, telco BSkyB and High Street retail giant M&S both suspended their ads on Facebook after they had appeared next to nasty posts on the network.

Sky had said that it halted running ads on Facebook after one of them "was found adjacent to offensive material" on the site, which the company said was "unacceptable".

Facebook explained its policy shift in a blog post to appease its real customers - the admen. It said:

We will now seek to restrict ads from appearing next to Pages and Groups that contain any violent, graphic or sexual content (content that does not violate our community standards). Prior to this change, a Page selling adult products was eligible to have ads appear on its right-hand side; now there will not be ads displayed next to this type of content.

In order to be thorough, this review process will be manual at first, but in the coming weeks we will build a more scalable, automated way to prevent and/or remove ads appearing next to controversial content.

All of this will improve detection of what qualifies as questionable content, which means we’ll do a better job making sure advertising messages appear next to brand-appropriate Pages and Groups. While these changes won't have a meaningful impact on Facebook's business, they will result in benefits to people and marketers.

Last week, Labour MP Helen Goodman told Parliament that "Facebook is providing a meeting place for paedophiles by continuing to publish on its pages indecent images of children, and it receives income from advertisements displayed alongside these pages from many household-name companies." ®

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