Charities such as Shelter and businesses including Vodafone have seen their Facebook adverts appear on pages about rape and violence.
Dove Cosmetics, the RSPB and audiobook site Audible are also among those who have complained to Facebook that group pages with titles such as “Raping!”, “Drop kicking sluts in the teeth” and “This is why Indian girls are raped” have all featured their adverts.
Facebook has been criticised in the past for failing to remove graphic material quickly, despite making $1.33 billion (£869 million) from advertising revenue in the last quarter alone.
Advertisers were alerted by Laura Bates, the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, the Times reported. Shelter said on Twitter that it would be “contacting Facebook to see if there’s anything we can do to stop this from happening” after its advert appeared on “Raping”, a page ‘liked’ by 4,400 people.
The RSPB contacted Facebook after its adverts appeared on a page called “Indian girls”, as did those from Audible. The charity said “Unless they can assure us that they are working out a way to guarantee this kind of thing doesn’t continue, we will be forced to consider our advertising options.”
On another page, called “Drop kicking sluts in the teeth”, an advert for Dove cosmetics appeared. Dove said it was “shocked to see our advert” on “Drop kicking sluts in the teeth”, and added the company has “spoken to Facebook who have removed this page completely”. The ‘closed group’ page is however still active, listed with a “controversial humor” warning.
Dove claimed it would be “refining our targeting to reduce the chance of any adverts appearing on similar pages”.
Miss Bates told The Times “If advertising on Facebook means your ad could appear on hundreds of rape pages, advertisers should consider that very carefully indeed.”
Vodafone contacted Facebook after its commercial content was featured on a page called “This is why Indian girls are raped”, alongside pictures of scantily clad Indian women.
Although the page was removed by Facebook it was swiftly replaced by an identical page.
Facebook said adverts on its site are targeted towards individual users, not towards pages. It claimed it aimed to act quickly to remove offensive material deemed to be “genuinely or directly harmful”.
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