Deutsche Telekom Pulls Facebook Ads

Deutsche Telekom has pulled their Facebook advertisements after they were positioned next to Neo-Nazi groups. The first advertisements to be pulled from the site were for 3min, a German website which publishes original video content. According to one of our readers, Viktoria Steinmeyer, the advertisements for “4010-der Telekom-Shop in Mitte” (found here) were also pulled. This is not the first time that extremist or politically affiliated groups have resulted in companies pulling their advertisements from Facebook.

Lanu of noticed over 200 Nazi pages at the beginning of the year and threatened to sue Facebook due to their violation of the German constitution. According to Viktoria Steinmeyer, Lanu of is claiming the following constitutional paragraphs have been violated:

  • “§ 130 Volksverhetzung” (On the incitement of the people)
  • “§ 86 Verbreiten von Propagandamitteln verfassungswidriger Organisationen” (On the Dissemination of Propaganda by Organizations Hostile to the Constitution)
  • “§ 86a Verwenden von Kennzeichen verfassungswidriger Organisationen” (On the Distribution of the Symbols of Organizations Hostile to the Constitution)
  • “§ 189 Verunglimpfung des Andenkens Verstorbener” (On the Slander of the Memory of the Deceased)

Facebook may be forced to develop a more effective ad filtering system as companies have pulled ads on a number of occasions after they appeared next to offensive or politically affiliated content. German companies understandably have extremely strict policies on advertising that is anywhere near Nazi-related content.
Advertising on sites with user generated content has always been complex as most advertisers have no way of controlling what their ads are placed next to. There have been countless examples of companies pulling their ads off sites and Deutsche Telekom is only one of the latest to do so. While I would expect the problem to eventually be resolved, since Deutsche Telekom is a large advertiser in Germany, international content filters will be important for the Facebook advertising platform.
This is also a fairly substantial public relations issue for Facebook considering that the site is still behind StudiVZ, the largest social network in Germany. That doesn’t mean Facebook isn’t growing rapidly in Germany. According to our own statistics, Facebook had 1.43 million users in Germany back on February 10th. Just over one month later, they now have over 2.1 million users, accounting for 46.8 percent growth in under 40 days.
With such impressive growth in Germany, Facebook’s ad filtering there is even more important. Do you think Facebook should be responsible for the content advertisements are placed next to?