CBS Gets a Rude Lesson in Citizen Journalism

Network's iPhone App Turns Up Some User-Generated NSFW Pics to Mobile Site

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Like a lot of news networks, CBS jumped on the citizen journalism bandwagon with a free iPhone app, Eyemobile for iPhone, to make it easy for users to upload news to its user-generated news site, CBSeyemobile.com.
CBS Eye Mobile
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Click to enlarge for a sort of NSFW version of a pic uploaded to CBSeyemobile.com.


Interesting, though, the citizens' definition of "news."

Karl Johnson, chief operating officer of BrandContent, a Boston-based agency, uploaded the app last night and saw a picture of a young woman bent over her kitchen stove, her skirt hiked up. Later he saw video of three women performing sexual acts on one another.

A visit to CBSeyemobile.com turns up a few photos that walk the line of not-safe-for-work, a jarring juxtaposition with CBS's storied news brand.

What's more, Google is advertising on the clips via AdMob.

"This seems to be a classic case of nobody paying attention to whether any of the materials are newsworthy or not," Mr. Johnson said. "Looks to me like Facebook run amok, but even Facebook has a moderator."

CBS does have a moderator, but it seems the system isn't working, or perhaps not as well as they would like. "We've been posting user-generated content since April, and this is the first known incident along these lines," a CBS spokesman said. "It was removed promptly and we will redouble our efforts in this regard."

Jason Spero, VP-Marketing, AdMob, in a statement said: "CBS notified AdMob of an inappropriate piece of content on this application and we worked with CBS to immediately remove all ads from this application until it is fixed. AdMob has a clear and consistent policy against running ads on mobile sites or applications with inappropriate content. CBS has clear guidelines around user generated content and immediately removed the content and banned the user that uploaded it from any future use of the application."

When asked whether any of his clients are comfortable advertising on this app at this point, Mr. Johnson said, "I think not. It doesn't seem consistent with CBS brand image by any stretch of the imagination."

Enabling users to easily upload video is a hot trend among the TV news networks. And several have jumped on the iPhone as a tool for citizen journalists. In addition to CBS, Fox News, CNN and The Associated Press all have iPhone apps that allow users to submit video of breaking news.

But, as CBS is figuring out, there are hazards.

E-mails Google for comment had not been returned by press time.
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