Every month Noseweek advertises its current issue on Facebook.
It’s an entirely automated affair and every advert is “reviewed” by an algorithm, and either approved or disapproved within minutes of its creation.
In nose217 the magazine featured an extract from a recently published book titled Done by eminent BBC journalist Jacques Peretti. In it Peretti describes how the world’s ultra-rich actually identified global inequality as a business opportunity that they planned to exploit – and widen. To them, he reported, it was a gift-horse like no other.
Peretti revealed that in 2006, a Citigroup consultant had predicted that by 2015 the 100 richest people would own the same as half the world’s population. In fact by 2015 just eight men owned as much as the poorest half of the world’s population: 3.7 billion people. Peretti named these extremely well-known and vastly wealthy eight men; Noseweek published their portraits to illustrate this remarkable must-read story.
The story was the obvious one to feature in a Facebook ad announcing the publication of the November issue of Noseweek – accompanied by the portraits of the eight richest men. But within 24 hours of the advert going live, Facebook canned it. Why? Because Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg is one of the eight.
Their official explanation: “We don’t allow adverts to use the image of Mark Zuckerberg when promoting a product or service”. Does that include a serious news story published in the public interest? Their reply: Noseweek was free to appeal against their decision.
We appealed – and got no response. In any event, appealing for the right to advertise a news story so obviously in the public interest just seemed daft. So we changed the advert and instead of using Zuckerberg’s image we replaced it with “censored”. The Facebook police appeared to be happy with this.
We have since learnt that Facebook is awash with “do-nots” in its attempt to occupy the moral high ground. For instance you cannot advertise tobacco related products, weapons or “sensational content” defined as imagery that may “shock or scare viewers”. You can’t have “controversial content” that “exploits controversial political or social issues for commercial purposes” – the mainstay of newspapers – and you can’t ask a person “Are you a Christian?” or have a leading sentence such as “Meet other Buddhists”.
Yet you can advertise alcohol, dating, gambling, natural remedies and online pharmacies, although these must have prior written approval.
They do have one quirky rule Noseweek approves of: “Adverts must not contain … bad grammar and punctuation. Symbols, numbers and letters must be used properly.”
Absolutely! Apostrophe abusers should be banned from the internet!
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