SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook has announced it is taking steps to address advertisers’ concerns over brand safety by restricting the type of content that can be monetized around in-stream ads and Instant Articles.

In a blog post, Nick Grudin, VP of Media Partnerships, outlined how the new “monetization eligibility standards” will work.

“These standards provide clearer guidance around the types of publishers and creators that are eligible to earn money on Facebook, along with guidelines on the kind of content that can be monetized,” he wrote.

Content specifically excluded falls into nine categories, including anything that: involves children’s characters engaging in inappropriate behaviour; is focused on real world tragedies, even if the intention is to promote awareness or education; is incendiary, inflammatory, demeaning or disparages people, groups, or causes; depicts threats or acts of violence against people or animals; has nudity or adult content as the focal point; depicts overly graphic images; depicts excessive consumption of alcohol, smoking or drug use; contains excessive use of derogatory language.

“This is what advertisers wanted,” said Nick Manning, chief strategy officer of Ebiquity, a brand consultancy. “Brands don’t want to be associated with content that may be offensive.”

And, he told the Financial Times, it could lead to big brands spending more on the platform. “It’s a genuine attempt to sort out a problem they should have addressed earlier,” he said.

In doing so, however, it may simply be exacerbating a different problem as new publishers, for example, could self-censor coverage of some controversial issues simply because they won’t be able to earn any advertising revenue from it, thus reinforcing people’s social media “bubbles”.

Techcrunch noted that “while Facebook has tried to avoid becoming a media company, setting these aggressive rules on what can’t be monetized is akin to making an editorial decision about what content it approves”.

Facebook also said it would seek accreditation from the Media Ratings Council for audience measurement services.

Data sourced from Facebook, Financial Times, TechCrunch; additional content by WARC staff