Facebook defends content policies after domestic violence controversy

Facebook has moved to defend itself as an advocate of free speech after Nissan pulled ads placed against offensive pages on the social network which made light of domestic violence.


The controversy erupted after brands were challenged to complain to the social network over their ads appearing against such content by The Everyday Sexism Project.

In an open letter addressed to Facebook users, the movement called for consumers to contact brands whose ads appear next to content that targets women for violence and asked them to pull all advertising on the social network until it bans all “gender-based hate speech on the site”.

Nissan and other brands, including BA, Dove and Sky, were targeted by the movement with Nissan removing their ads from the social network, using its Twitter feed to declare its discomfort with ads appearing against such content.

However, Facebook has issued a corresponding statement declaring its disgust at the offending pages, which have since been removed and defending its content policies, adding that having a platform for open debate helps combat ignorance and intolerance.

It reads: “There is no place on Facebook for  hate speech or content that is  threatening, or incites violence, and we will not tolerate material deemed to be genuinely or directly harmful.

“We try to react quickly to remove reported language or images that violate our terms and we try to make it very easy for people to report questionable content using links located throughout the site.

“However, as you may expect in any diverse community of more than a billion people, we occasionally see people post distasteful or disturbing content, or make crude attempts at humour.

“While it may be vulgar and offensive, distasteful content on its own does not violate our policies. We do require that any such page be clearly marked - so users are aware that the content may be in poor taste. In many instances, we may also require a page administrator to display their real name on the page, or the page will be removed.”

Meanwhile, Nissan has also issued a statement which reads: “Obviously we would not choose to advertise next to content such as this; Facebook adverts are targeted at the individual user, not the page viewed.” 

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