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Companies pull their ads off Facebook after placement near controversial content

Published: Tuesday, July 28 2015 10:12 a.m. MDT

Facebook temporarily lost at least a dozen advertisers, including Nissan and U.K.-based Nationwide, when viewers saw the companies’ advertisements placed adjacent to misogynistic content. Marne Levine, Facebook's vice president of public policy, said, Facebook temporarily lost at least a dozen advertisers, including Nissan and U.K.-based Nationwide, when viewers saw the companies’ advertisements placed adjacent to misogynistic content. Marne Levine, Facebook's vice president of public policy, said, "We need to do better — and we will.” (James H. Collins, Associated Press)

Facebook temporarily lost at least a dozen advertisers, including Nissan and U.K.-based Nationwide, when viewers saw the companies’ advertisements placed adjacent to misogynistic content in users' posts.

"As a responsible and trusted consumer brand, we do feel that sites like Facebook should have stringent processes and guidelines in place to ensure that brands are able to protect themselves from appearing alongside inappropriate content," Nationwide said in a statement.

The companies pulled their advertisements in response to complaints from women’s rights organizations. Women, Action & the Media, Everyday Sexism Project as well as other groups started a campaign for Facebook to take action and remove the misogynistic content. They sent more than 60,000 tweets and 5,000 emails, according to womenactionmedia.org.

On Tuesday, Facebook released a statement about what viewers can expect as the company continues to filter out “controversial, harmful and hateful speech” on its site.

“In recent days, it has become clear that our systems to identify and remove hate speech have failed to work as effectively as we would like, particularly around issues of gender-based hate,” said Marne Levine, Facebook vice president of public policy. “In some cases, content is not being removed as quickly as we want. In other cases, content that should be removed has not been or has been evaluated using outdated criteria. We have been working over the past several months to improve our systems to respond to reports of violations, but the guidelines used by these systems have failed to capture all the content that violates our standards. We need to do better — and we will.”

Some of the companies that removed their advertisements are pleased with the steps Facebook is taking to improve monitoring controversial or hateful content.

Abby Stevens is an intern for the DeseretNews.com Faith and Family sections. She is a recent graduate of Brigham Young University–Idaho. Contact her at astevens@deseretdigital.com.

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