The Clash Between Advertisers And Speech
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2013-05-29 09:24 by Karl Denninger
in Company Specific Ignore this thread
The Clash Between Advertisers And Speech *

Now we're seeing some reality from a few folks who have avoided it for quite some time...

Facebook Inc. (FB) plans to bolster efforts to keep hate speech off its pages amid complaints the site allowed content that encouraged violence against women, prompting companies to suspend advertisements.

Nissan Motor Co.’s U.K. unit and lender Nationwide Building Society halted some Facebook ads that could have appeared next to offensive content after the group Women, Action, & the Media criticized the social network’s response to complaints. Menlo Park, California-based Facebook said it will review guidelines for evaluating content that may violate its standards, and will update training for teams that review reports on hate speech.

The problem is defining "hate speech", of course, and how this meshes with corporate advertising.

Bloomberg properly identifies the issue, which is that "good taste" may turn off advertisers.  But of course Bloomberg, like all people who have a vested interest in turning you into sheep, calls bad taste "hate speech", evading the issue at hand by branding it with a phrase intended to disparge.

The real problem is that association of an advertised product with something the advertiser disapproves of tends to lead them to stop paying for said ads!

That, in turn, has a habit of leading users of services like Facebook to ask what are we here?

The answer, as I have repeatedly pointed out, is "product"

This is not going to end well for firms that have promoted themselves to users as some sort of bastion of free speech and "expression" when in fact the reason they exist and have put together their "business" is to obtain product in the form of users who are then marketed to Madison Avenue!

This is the soft underbelly of the "new media"; media costs money to run, of course -- computers, bandwidth and electricity all cost money.  Somehow the money has to come in to cover the cost, along with the development of the software you use.  When you offer something to people for "free" the fact of the matter is that there is no such thing as "free" -- you just don't see the cost directly.

"Social Media" is the worst in this regard in that you are the product, not the company's service.  And while posting cute pictures of your cat is unlikely to offend anyone (and thus is "valuable" if they're really cute pictures) think about what's going on here -- you are providing creative input for free to the social media site who then sells YOU to Madison Avenue and makes money off your cat.

The cat doesn't care and you probably don't either, because you get to "communicate" (really?)

But -- what happens when you post pictures of the outcome of war?  A poor bastard who had his legs blown off in a bombing?  Perhaps it's a picture of some random person blowing chunks all over the wall at a local party.  Is that "hate speech"?

Budweiser probably doesn't want their beer associated with the latter; after all, Bud is to be associated with "happy times" such as sporting events and grand backyard parties, right?

That is, Budweiser hates that picture of the chunk-blowing -- which for them, makes that picture "hate speech."

You, on the other hand, probably think your photos of the beer bong contest (and its outcome) are hilarious.


Very few people understand that Facebook is not a "right" nor are they "customers."  They are in fact product and like all product, if the store owner determines that it looks off-color or smells like long-dead fish you're going to find yourself tossed in the dumpster.

The question is whether, once those "off color" products are ejected, what remains is sufficiently interesting to the buyers (Madison Avenue) to constitute a successful marketplace.

I still believe the answer to that, in the case of Facebook and most other "social media", is no.