Facebook has taken its fight for ridding its platform from fake accounts and ad spends to a whole new level. After its recent investigation into the possible abuse of its platform, Facebook announced its intentions of detecting and ridding content from suspected fake accounts and accompanying ad spends.
This has been the most recent update on the issues about Facebook being exploited during the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections. As a recall, the leading social media network was allegedly used as a means of disrupting and interfering with the voters’ outlooks and decisions. As what Facebook’s official statement explicitly points out, “these are allegations that need to be taken into serious consideration.” Facebook is currently investigating a number of activities happening on its site to help with their evaluation. Among this investigation is ad spend transactions being made between June 2015 up to the present date.
Their findings show that a total ad spend of roughly $100,000 was discovered to be connected to about 470 fake Facebook accounts. Associated with about 3,000 ads, these were understandably coming from accounts that clearly violate Facebook’s policies. In addition, they also weren’t in association whatsoever with any legit brand, business or organization.
But that’s about that. Take note that this post doesn’t talk mainly about politics and other non-marketing-related issues. Instead, we want to share the implications of Facebook’s recent moves to digital marketers and online businesses.
Facebook Is Taking Things Seriously
Facebook’s effort on exploiting and shutting down fake accounts is an indication of its continuous impact on social media advertising and its influence in our lives. According to the New York Times, the average Facebook user spends about 35 to 50 minutes per day on Facebooks. That amount of exposure is often associated with too much attention given to a particular brand, cause, or organization by multiple advertisers. This latest progress by Facebook shows that it also needs some advanced planning of knowing where it might materialize.
Many experts believe that people who wanted to influence the election took it straight to Facebook. It was pretty clear to them that it’s the best way to influence the most out of people. However, let’s be clear that all of this isn’t the fault of ads. The blame goes to these manipulative humans who abuse them.
What We Know
So what does all of this mean for marketers? Here’s what we know so far.
Since the beginning of 2017, Facebook has been making its intentions known. Facebook wants to prevent and reduce the use of fake accounts and distribution of misinformation in its platform. Some of these issues stem from the laws that Facebook must follow to help its support during high-level investigations.
Some are rooted in laws that, as a business, Facebook must follow to aid in high-level investigations. On the other hand, others are focused on preserving the integrity of civic discourse, requiring advertisers to comply and meet specific rules. A major step in that direction is the immediate banning of certain Pages that are found to be guilty. These pages are repeatedly distributing and promoting fake news on Facebook and must be put to stop.
Facebook Will Incorporate New Practices
However, a part of that effort has to be on the preventive side of things. This means Facebook will be implementing technologies and practices to keep accounts that continually engaged in activities, like being created and able to do advertising in the very beginning. That means Facebook is on the verge of creating several methods and techniques to determine the exact nature and intention. Having this will help figure out if a Page meets certain criteria the moment it is built.
A huge answer to this, which is already present, is automation and other digital advancements. Facebook outlines the following in their recent statement:
- Integration of a machine learning technology. Machine learning will help limit the number of spam and reduce posts people see that will link to bad, low-quality web pages.
- Formulating new methods of combating against disguising the actual goal of an ad or post. It can also be the exact content of the destination page for avoiding Facebook’s review processes.
- Reducing the number of spammers and deprioritizing anything they share a lot more frequently than any other regular sharers.
- Decreasing stories coming from sources that are consistently posting irrelevant clickbait headlines that exaggerate the information it provides
- Finally, Facebook will block Pages from the advantages of advertising if they repeatedly share stories already marked as false and extraneous.
- Anyone can say that it is a reasonably comprehensive action plan. However, it does create a number of implications for content creators.
Why All of this Matters
When big-name brands started pulling their ads from YouTube this year, it resulted in a loss of roughly $25 billion worth of ad revenue. The motivation behind all of this was the ads that were appearing in the pre-roll for videos. They were coming from content creators, with which these brands wanted nothing to do about. It seems that these are the types of content creators that Facebook is working to remove from its platform.
The series of unfortunate events resulted in a promise made by Google, who currently owns YouTube. Google vows to implement better procedures and ensure that advertisers will have complete autonomy over where, how, and when their content ads will appear.
However, experts believe that reversing things have always been an option as well. YouTube will be the one allowing big brands to choose which ads are going to be appearing before their videos. That means if you intend your ad to appear in the pre-roll of content created by big-name brands, you could definitely do so – That’s if you are willing to spend enough.
However, that isn’t much of the case back on Facebook. Any visual content that is created exclusively for the platform doesn’t come with a pre-roll ad, at least not yet. That leaves brands being concerned about the possibilities of having negative content appearing on their Pages.
Social Networking Is A Business
We should also consider that at the end of the day, social networks are structured as businesses for profit. For the most part, anyone can create any social media account and advertise from them. However, high-profile brands are going to have more to lose by not following their protocol compared to small profile businesses. However, it also needs to be considered that smaller ad accounts are much more difficult to manage and have less at stake regarding a bottom line when it comes to the content they create and promote. In relation to that, smaller ad accounts make it much easier to slip through unnoticed. With that, it’s hard to imagine Facebook having an easy road ahead in its efforts to remove actions being made to violate its policies.
For marketers and online business owners who are worried and concerned about what all of these developments mean for them, here are a few words of advice: Always be aware of where your ad spend is going, and always be mindful of where your content might appear. When creating a targeted social media promotion or advertising strategy, keep these rules and past experiences shared by other advertisers in mind, even if it’s made unintentional by the platform.
Facebook’s Revolution Is Only The Beginning
The moves made by Facebook hardly come as a surprise after the rapid growth in fake accounts and clickbait content. Facebook has been spending much of this year trying to track down and determine low-quality, inauthentic content. Facebook has been putting more and more emphasis on solving this issue ever since allegations from last year came out and swayed crucial opinions. Reacting accordingly just shows how much the social media brand is taking journalistic integrity seriously; not only as a social network but as an outlet for the latest news. We’ll be monitoring closely on the investigation as it unfolds further into the end of this year.
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