Meta placed ads next to content sexualizing minors

by | Jan 12, 2024 | Digital Marketing, Facebook, Instagram, Meta, Paid social, PPC

The New Mexico attorney general’s office has filed a lawsuit against Meta, the parent company of Facebook, for allegedly running corporate ads next to content that sexualizes underage users. The allegations were made public by Walmart and Tinder’s parent company Match Group, bringing into question the issue of brand safety and ethical advertising practices.

According to New Mexico Attorney General, Raúl Torrez, Meta has been accused of enabling adults to find, message, and groom minors for sexual exploitation. The company has been accused of permitting sponsored content to appear alongside disturbing images and videos that violate Meta’s promised standards. Match Group reportedly informed Meta that ads for its dating apps were running adjacent to disturbing and clearly illegal content, but Meta allegedly failed to take action, leading Match’s CEO to write a complaint directly to Mark Zuckerberg with no response.

In response to the court filing, a Walmart spokesperson emphasized the company’s commitment to brand safety and stated that protecting customers and communities remains a top priority. Walmart had previously filed a complaint with Meta in October, claiming that the social media giant’s attention to brand safety had disappeared.

A spokesperson for Meta stated that the company does not want inappropriate content on its platforms and that brands do not want their ads to appear next to such content. The spokesperson also claimed that Meta’s systems are effective at reducing violating content and that the company has invested billions in safety, security, and brand suitability solutions. However, the issue of running corporate ads alongside inappropriate content persists, as evidenced by the public allegations and the lawsuit filed by the New Mexico attorney general’s office.

Placing ads alongside illegal content poses a serious threat to brand safety, potentially resulting in reputational damage and hindering the ad’s ability to reach its intended audience, thus impacting ROI. It is crucial for companies to uphold ethical advertising practices and ensure that brand safety is a top priority.

The lawsuit and public allegations against Meta highlight the importance of transparency, accountability, and ethical advertising practices in the digital marketing industry. The ongoing legal battle and the deep dive into the issue by New Mexico’s Department of Justice further underscore the need for companies to take proactive measures to prevent their ads from appearing alongside inappropriate and illegal content. This case serves as a reminder for businesses to prioritize brand safety and ethical advertising practices to protect their reputation and uphold their commitment to their customers and communities.

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