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Facebook to pull ads from pages with sex, violence

A smartphone user shows the Facebook application on his phone in the central Bosnian town of Zenica, in this photo illustration, May 2, 2013
A smartphone user shows the Facebook application on his phone in the central Bosnian town of Zenica, in this photo illustration, May 2, 2013

By Alexei Oreskovic

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Facebook Inc said it will no longer allow ads to appear on pages with sexual or violent content, as the online social network moves to appease marketers being associated with objectionable material.

The moves come a month after several businesses pulled their ads from Facebook amid reports of pages on Facebook that promoted violence against women.

Facebook said at the time that it needed to improve its system for flagging and removing content that violated its community standards, which forbid users from posting content about hate-speech, threats and pornography, among other things.

Ads account for roughly 85 percent of revenue at Facebook, the world's largest social network with 1.1 billion users. Facebook said the changes would not have a meaningful impact on its business.

On Friday, Facebook said it also needed to do more to prevent situations in which ads are displayed alongside material that may not run afoul of its community standards but are deemed controversial nonetheless.

A Facebook page for a business that sells adult products, for example, will no longer feature ads. Previously such a page could feature ads along the right-hand side of the page so long as the page did not violate Facebook's prohibition on depicting nudity.

The move underscores the delicate balance for social media companies, which features a variety of unpredictable and sometimes unsavory content shared by users, but which rely on advertising to underpin their business.

"Our goal is to both preserve the freedoms of sharing on Facebook but also protect people and brands from certain types of content," Facebook said in a post on its website on Friday.

Facebook said on Friday that it would expand the scope of pages and groups on its website that should be ad-restricted and promised to remove ads from the flagged areas of the website by the end of the coming week.

Pages and groups that reference violence will also be off limits to ads, the company said. A Facebook spokeswoman noted that the policy would not apply to the pages of news organizations on Facebook.

Facebook said the process of flagging objectionable pages and removing ads would initially be done manually, but that the company will build an automated system to do the job in the coming weeks.

(Reporting By Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Kenneth Barry)

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