Facebook has been shamed into removing advertisements from pages showing sexual images or violence one month after Nissan and other smaller companies temporarily withdrew ads.
The social network giant yesterday unveiled a radical overhaul of its advertising operations in a desperate attempt to try and stop a further exodus of advertisers.
A company statement said: ‘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.’
Facebook said, from Monday, it would implement a new review process for determining which pages and groups should feature adverts alongside their content around the world.
‘We will now seek to restrict ads from appearing next to pages and groups that contain any violent, graphic or sexual content.’
It added that any page selling ‘adult content’ would also not feature advertising.
In future around 10,000 pages will be marked as ‘safe’ and will be able to feature any adverts, according to sources.
But all other pages will have to be laboriously checked to see if they contain images or words that are offensive.
The bold move comes a month after feminist groups campaigned for Facebook to improve its process for identifying and removing pages that glorify violence against women.
Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, writer and activist Soraya Chemaly and Jaclyn Friedman from Women, Action & the Media joined forces to launch the hashtag Twitter campaign #FBRape.
They sent more than 5,000 e-mails to Facebook’s advertisers and elicited more than 60,000 posts on Twitter, requesting the removal of pages featuring women who had been abused.
In a public statement, Facebook acknowledged its failure to block the offensive content and promised to train staff to be able to spot such posts in order to make Facebook a ‘safe and respectful place for sharing and connection’.
#FBRape saw companies such as Finnair and Nissan UK contact Facebook to block their advertisements on the site.
Bates, 26, said derogatory Facebook pages normalize the poor treatment of women.
‘I see and hear stories every single day from women whose lives are directly impacted by sexism, misogyny and sexual abuse,’ she told MailOnline.
‘So these pictures and pages hit very close to home for me. And when I receive emails from teenage girls who have been raped, but won’t report it because they think they must be to blame, or they won’t be taken seriously.
‘I can’t help but think that Facebook has a responsibility to stand up to the normalization of rape and domestic violence that is created by these pages condoning and depicting it.
‘Of course it’s not as simple as saying that one directly leads to another, but it certainly creates a culture in which the message is sent out, loud and clear, that rape and domestic violence are something to laugh and boast about, not something to take seriously. ‘
Facebook spokeswoman Elisabeth Diana told NY Times dealing with offensive content was something the company handled on a daily basis.
‘We take it really, really seriously,’ she said.
Facebook is facing pressure around the world to change its ways.
British companies Marks & Spencer and Sky owner BSkyB told Facebook they had serious concerns about their names appearing next to ‘inappropriate content’, and last week suspended the majority of their advertisements.