Facebook has introduced changes to where it displays adverts on Pages and Groups with adult content, following a boycott threatened by Marks & Spencer and BSkyB.

Facebook will no longer display ads on Pages or Groups with adult, sexual or violent content. (Credit: Reuters)

A complaint was raised by a member of the public when an advert promoting an M&S voucher offered to Sky customers appeared on a Facebook page containing "inappropriate" content; the page was titled "cute and gay boys" and featured photographs of teenage boys, according to the BBC.

The retailer asked BSkyB to remove the advert, and the broadcaster has since suspended all of its advertising on the social network.

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."


This prompted Facebook to announces changes to how it displays advertisements, and in particular whether or not it displays ads on pages containing content which is allowed by Facebook's rules, but may be deemed inappropriate by the advertiser, or its potential customers.

In a statement emailed to IBTimes UK, Facebook said: "Facebook is a place for people to connect and share. It's also a place where businesses can connect and share content with the people who love their brands. Our goal is to both preserve the freedoms of sharing on Facebook but also protect people and brands from certain types of content.

"We know that marketers work hard to promote their brands, and we take their objectives seriously. While we already have rigorous review and removal policies for content against our terms, we recognize we need to do more to prevent situations where ads are displayed alongside controversial Pages and Groups. So we are taking action."

Starting 1 July, Facebook will implement a new review process for determining which Pages and Groups should feature ads alongside their content. The social network says this process, which will be manual at first, "will expand the scope of Pages and Groups that should be ad-restricted."

The website says it will have removed adverts from all Pages and Groups that fall into the new, more expansive restricted list by the end of next week.

Such Pages and Groups include those displaying violent, graphic or sexual content (but content which does not violate Facebook's 'community standards'); prior to the change taking place, a Page selling adult products was eligible to have ads appear on its right-hand side, but after the change such a page will no longer display adverts.

Facebook continued: "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."

The social network claims the changes to ad placement will not have "a meaningful impact" on its business, but will "result in benefits to people and marketers."

Facebook concludes: "Like any digital platform, we're not going to be perfect but we will be much better. We'll continue to work aggressively on this issue with advertisers. We are confident the immediate steps we're taking will result in a significantly improved approach to proventing these instances from occurring".