After Nissan Yanks Ads, Facebook Acknowledges Failure on Hate-Speech

Automaker's U.K. Unit Pulls Ads After Pressure From Women's Group

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Nissan U.K. earlier today pulled advertisements from Facebook because of offensive content on the social media site. Facebook later acknowledged in a blog post that its "systems to identify and remove hate speech have failed to work as effectively as we would like, particularly around issues of gender-based hate."

Facebook has been facing pressure from feminist groups to ban pages that glorify violence against women, The New York Times reported Tuesday. The activists, led by Women, Action and the Media and The Everyday Sexism Project, have sent more than 5,000 e-mails to Facebook's advertisers and 60,000 Tweets against the ads

The automaker, along with more than a dozen smaller companies, has stopped all advertisements until Facebook can guarantee that Nissan ads will not appear on pages with offensive content, Nissan spokesman David Reuter said.

Nissan's ads rotate location on Facebook, and the only place where Nissan had ads this week was in the U.K., Reuter said. There is no telling whether next week's ads will be pulled as well, he said.

"We will take that week by week," Mr. Reuter said. "We don't forecast where we advertise."

According to Women, Action, & the Media, 15 advertisers pulled their ads from Facebook. Nissan U.K. is the only automaker on the list.

Nissan's core models -- including the Altima, Pathfinder and Sentra -- currently hold the most advertising weight overall for the automaker.

"Working with Facebook, we realized that if an individual goes to a page that may have offensive content on it, our ads could follow them into those pages," Mr. Reuter said.

Mr. Reuter said pulling the ads most likely will not affect sales, and he expects it to be temporary.

"I expect we will work through those specific challenges quite quickly," he said. "We haven't changed our strategy in terms of Facebook being an important part of our overall digital advertising plan."

Facebook declined to comment on Nissan's decision, referring to its online statements about the content issue in general.

Facebook said in a statement that it has "no tolerance for hate speech or content that is threatening, or incited violence, and we will not tolerate material deemed to be directly harmful to anyone."

Facebook has made a list of promises in response to the offensive content, including to update guidelines and training used to identify hate speech, increase accountability for users whose posts are "cruel or insensitive" and ask cyber-hate groups to include the women's coalition.

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--Automotive News

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