Meta releases the long-awaited tools to separate ads from harmful content

In response to their demands to remove their ads from controversial posts on Facebook and Instagram, Meta announced Thursday the launch of a long-promised system for advertisers to determine where their ads appear.

And the American technology giant stated that the system provides advertisers with three levels of risk that they can choose from to determine the placement of their ads, and with the most conservative option, they can exclude positions above or below posts with sensitive content, such as: depicting weapons, sexual innuendo, and political discussions.

Meta said it will also provide a report via ad measurement firm Zefr that shows advertisers on Facebook exactly what content appeared near their ads and how they were ranked.

Marketers have long called for more control over where their ads appear online, and have complained that the big social media companies do little to prevent ads from appearing alongside hate speech, fake news, and other types of offensive content.

It came to a head in July 2020, when thousands of brands joined a campaign to boycott Facebook amid anti-racism protests in the United States.

Under an agreement reached several months later, the company, now called Meta, agreed to develop tools to “better manage ad adjacency” in addition to other perks.
Samantha Stetson, Meta’s vice president of the Customer Council and Industry Trade Relations, said she expects Meta to introduce more granular controls over time so advertisers can define their preferences on various social issues.

Stetson added that initial tests did not show any significant change in performance or price for ads placed using the most conservative settings, adding that test participants “were both surprised and pleased.”

However, Stetson cautioned that the pricing dynamic could change, given the auction-based nature of the Meta Ads system.

The controls will initially be available in the English and Spanish-speaking markets, with plans to expand them to other regions and other formats for the company’s video ads, stories and short videos (Reels) later this year.

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