While she shouldn’t have been on Facebook in the first place, a 9 year-old was exposed to a sexually suggestive ad last night while navigating the site. It brings up a number of questions surrounding parenting as well as the advertisements allowed to pass through Facebook’s ad approval department. According to Hugh Briss, he was alerted by his daughter who asked “What is that man doing to that lady and why are they naked, Daddy?”
Users Ignore The Age Restrictions
Prior to considering the legitimacy of this ad, I thought it was important to discuss the issue surrounding age restrictions. Facebook is limited to users who are 13 and above, however users of all ages are flocking to the site. One possibility is that Hugh’s daughter falsified her age in order to register and it’s not surprising as many other young users have done the exact same thing.
When I developed a social network for musicians and their fans 6 years ago, I remember having a co-worker who asked me how her daughter could register for the site. I asked her how young her daughter was and after telling me that her daughter was 10 years old she said, “She can just put in a fake age, right?” My initial reaction was shock but unfortunately this is an extremely common behavior among parents.
In the case of Hugh’s daughter, it appears that he’s trying to blame Facebook for exposing his daughter to something she wouldn’t have been able to see in the first place had his daughter not been navigating the site. Granted, Hugh is trying to enable his daughter to learn about the net, and she potentially was navigating to her friend’s profile using his account. Regardless, she shouldn’t have been able to visit the site in the first place under the terms and conditions of the site.
Questionable Ads On Facebook Continue
While many have criticized Facebook for allowing aggressive advertisements to make their way on to the site, the company has publicly stated that they’ve been increasing the staff in the ad approval department. Unfortunately for Facebook though, they are stuck in an interesting position in which letting some ads that have questionable standards pass through will result in more clicks and more revenue for Facebook.
In the long-term though, Facebook needs to aggressively police their advertisements as it will help ensure a prosperous future. Then again, Google still runs questionable ads to this day and the types of advertisements that are let through the approval process is still somewhat random. In this case, the image truly borders on explicit content and it’s not clear what value is being provided by it.
Who’s At Fault?
So while Facebook probably shouldn’t have let this specific advertisement pass through the approval process, the greater question here is who is at fault? Is the dad at fault for letting her daughter on the site? Should Facebook be more aggressive in cleaning up their ads? Where should the line be drawn?