Lying on Facebook
In what looks like another hack, the socialmediocrity office was alerted to another mildly amusing copy change on the site. Accessing the Advertising platform, we notice that the “Advertising” label has been replaced with “Lying” in English (UK) language. It doesn’t appear to occur in any other languages at the moment.
Of course, we can’t help being reminded of Dudley Moore in Crazy People when we see things like this. “Boxy, but good” anyone?
It’s beginning to look like these hacks are not being taken overly seriously, and whilst 99% of Facebook users will never see this particular hack, what if the “More ads” link on almost every page (beneath the other ads appearing on the page) is hacked to read “More lies”? In some respects it just goes to show that you should only give users so much control over the platform. Or perhaps open-sourcing translation isn’t such a good idea afterall. It does make me wonder what hacks are being undertaken in other languages around the world if this is able to occur so easily in the US to UK translation.
Either way we shouldn’t be overly surprised at the outcome. The vocal minorities always tend to be over-represented in any debate or democratic organisation, and so if you allow users to vote in hacks, then they will happen regularly as those with nothing better to do actively pursue the intended change.
It would be more concerning if this actually reflected broader user perception of advertising on the platform. Facebook have a series of guidlines to protect users against illegal and offensive advertising, but there is a steady stream of exceptions to this that we, amongst others, have talked about before: Guidelines but no rules.
Perhaps it is time for Facebook to take a harder line against the less principled advertisers, and were a bit stricter on itself when it comes to the ads it accepts. As a married man, I still receive many many ads promoting dating services, gambling products and the occasional get-rich-quick scheme – all of which contravene the otherwise largely well-thought-out guidelines (with the exception of Sex education. But only to adults), and it is the continuation of these largely irrelevant and low quality ads, coupled with no micro-targeting and no micro-messaging that generate poor perceptions amongst users, and subsequently low response rates from consumers, and therefore low value to advertisers.
Of course we’d poll the users to find out what they really thought of the advertising if we could still.
I’m convinced that most users would be more tolerant of ads if they were relevant to them and of a sufficient quality, rather than pay even a $5 monthly subscription to use the platform. But perhaps Facebook will consider an ad-free subscription model too, in the face of such low media rates being generated.
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