A smartphone user shows the Facebook application on his phone in the central Bosnian town of Zenica, in this photo illustration taken May 2, 2013.
A smartphone user shows the Facebook application on his phone in the central Bosnian town of Zenica, in this photo illustration taken May 2, 2013. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Files (DADO RUVIC)

Facebook, seeking to keep customers comfortable marketing wares on its pages, is beefing up efforts to prevent ads from showing up alongside violent, graphic or sexual content.

Starting next week, the owner of the world's largest social-networking service will more stringently monitor where ads end up, the company said in a statement today.

Advertiser Nissan's British unit and lender Nationwide Building Society suspended some Facebook ads earlier this year amid complaints that the site allowed content that encouraged violence against women. Facebook is working to strike a better balance between fostering free speech and not offending marketers whose spending is vital to sales growth.

"While we already have rigorous review and removal policies for content against our terms, we recognize we need to do more to prevent situations where ads are displayed alongside controversial" content, the company said in the post. "Our goal is to both preserve the freedoms of sharing on Facebook but also protect people and brands from certain types of content."

Facebook, which has more than 1.1 billion users, said the new policy won't have a "meaningful impact" on business.

Under the new policy, Facebook is expanding the number of categories alongside which it won't place ads. The company was already blocking ads from topics such as racist humor. The company also plans a more automated way to address ads appearing next to controversial content. Facebook said it plans to automate the new screening process for ad placement over the next several weeks.


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The policies affect Facebook's Pages, which typically feature celebrities, companies or businesses, and Groups, where folks with common interests or opinions connect.

"All of this will improve detection of what qualifies as questionable content," Facebook said.