Facebook removes ads from ‘cute and gay boys’ page after threat of boycott

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Social networking site Facebook has announced that it is to totally overhaul its advertising systems, in order to deal with concerns raised by advertisers over potentially offensive content.

Facebook announced that new restrictions will now apply, in order to block ads from appearing on certain areas of the site.

An issue was raised after Marks and Spencer, and BSkyB, among others, suspended advertising, after complaining that their adverts had appeared on pages containing offensive material.

The adverts about a Sky advert, which promoted an M&S voucher appeared on a page called “cute and gay boys”, which featured photographs of teenage boys.

The page in question simply describes itself as: “Each day a different image|”. The social media site is now to remove any advertising from many such pages.

In a blogpost on Friday, Facebook said: “We recognize we need to do more to prevent situations where ads are displayed alongside controversial Pages and Groups. So we are taking action.”

A new process will be implemented from Monday, in order to determine which pages or groups should feature adverts. It will ensure that adverts do not appear on pages featuring violent, graphic or sexual content, even if the content is not in violation of the company’s rules.

One source told the BBC that it would create a “gold standard” of about 10,000 pages which it would deem appropriate, and then inspect subsequent pages in order to add them to the list. All adverts will be removed from all other pages.

Facebook said it was taking the complaint “very seriously”.

BSkyB, which had removed all campaigns from the site said it looked forward to reviewing the situation going forward. M&S had asked Sky to remove its ads, as well as removing some of its own.

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.”

A spokeswoman said M&S did not “tolerate any inappropriate use or positioning of its brand and has very clear policies that govern where and how our brand is used”.

She continued: “We take any suggestion that these policies are not being adhered to very seriously and always investigate them thoroughly.”