Facebook recently lost six advertisers when the advertisers’ ads began appearing on the British National Party page. First Direct, Vodafone, Virgin Media, the AA, Halifax and the Prudential all, wisely in my opinion, decided to vacate their presence on the site a a whole rather than seemingly endorse a particular political party. This makes sense. People often don’t understand the concepts of advertising placement with rotations. They also often don’t understand the seperation of advertising and editorial.
This reminded me of situation that happened about a year and a half ago. It can only be described as a horror story.
A deranged young man walked into a gay bar in New Bedford, MA with a gun and an ax and attacked a bunch of people, injuring five. He then disappeared. No one knew who he was.
About six days later a cop stopped a motorist in northern Arkansas for a routine violation. The car had Massachusetts plates and had two passengers. A young man was driving and he had a thirty something year old women in it. The man pulled out a gun and shot the cop dead. Other officers soon arrived and a shootout occurred. For some reason, the youth turned to the woman in the car and shot and killed her. He ended up getting severly wounded in the shootout and died in a few days. Turned out the woman he had in the car with him was a 33 year old single mother from West Virginia. He had apparently met her prior to all this and had picked her up on his travels. As I said, horror story.
Two days after his identity was revealed, the Boston Globe pointed to his MySpace page. He had some weird name, an mask on his face, and seemed to hate gays and black. And up above, at the top of his page was a banner ad for Verizon. I went back to the same page the next day…same ad on this cop killing gay hating racist murderer’s page. Two days later after that second visit to the page, there was an ad for another company – I can’t remember which. That’s four or five days AFTER this nut was identified as the one who did all this. No one from MySpace had bothered to take down the ads. I figured maybe MySpace is keeping the page up to help gather evidence, but felt that there was no excuse – especially when the killers page had been pointed out in the press – for the ads to remain.
In the long run, this is going to hurt the social networks. At the heart of a company is its brand. And companies will gladly protect their brand before they let social network associate it with a cause they may not believe in or some unsavory character.
I raised a point on an online forum that social networks need to come up with a better was of helping potential advertisers advertise on apporpriate profiles. And for that matter, a networks residents will need to be given some sort of assurances that the ads that appear on their profiles will be approriate as well. What inspired me back then