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Facebook Adds New Brand Safety Controls, Including Topic Exclusions for Video Ads



Facebook has announced some new brand safety controls for video advertisers, with topic exclusions, based on machine learning, and ‘publisher allow’ lists to better control campaign display.

First up is Topic Exclusions, which provides video advertisers with a new way to control which video posts their ads can appear within, based on the content of the video.

Facebook video ad topic exclusions

​As explained by Facebook:

“Topic exclusion will offer in-stream advertisers a more granular exclusionary tool that allows for content-level suitability. Powered by machine learning technology, topic exclusion is designed to allow in-stream advertisers to choose content-level exclusions from four different topics: news, politics, gaming, and religious and spiritual content.”

As you can see in the above screenshot, advertisers will be able to prevent their ads from being shown in video uploads related to these content areas, though the same limitations won’t apply to live-streams.

Facebook hasn’t provided technical detail on how the system determines which videos fall into each category (other than the above note that it’s ‘powered by machine learning’), but the assumption would be that it also uses historical context for each uploader, its Page classification, and subsequent comments and engagement to determine each video’s focus.

The other addition is “publisher allow lists”, which will give advertisers the capacity to select a specific list of publishers with which it wants to have its ads shown.

Facebook video ad classification

That will enable advertisers to run their campaigns exclusively on the content from these publishers.

Brand Safety controls came into focus back in 2017 after YouTube lost millions in ad revenue when publishers started pulling their ads due to them appearing alongside extremist and hate speech content. Of course, the correct answer would be for YouTube and other platforms to remove extremist and hate speech content outright, but with variable levels of risk involved due to brand association related to different types of content, all digital platforms have since been working to add new placement control options to stop unwanted connection.

Worth noting too that both Facebook and YouTube have also been working to take more action against such content, but brand safety controls like this provide more capacity for advertisers to better protect themselves from such concerns, putting more control in their hands, as opposed to simply relying on the platforms and their tools.

In addition to this, Facebook has also recently improved its third-party auditing status, being added to the inaugural group of Trustworthy Accountability Group Brand Safety Certified companies.

“We’ve also been working with Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) to align on brand safety standards and definitions, scaling education, common tools and systems, and independent oversight for the industry. We have aligned with GARM on the definitions for the 11 categories including hate speech and acts of aggression that are included in the GARM/4A’s Brand Safety Floor and Suitability Framework.”

These broader associations enable digital platforms to better align with accepted benchmarks and practices, and stamp out problematic groups en masse, as opposed to each platform going it alone.

That approach with help to establish new industry standards, and enable further action on such concerns, which will ultimately give more control and assurance to ad partners.

You can read more about Facebook’s latest brand safety updates here.


Snap making changes to direct response advertising business



Snap making changes to direct response advertising business

The company posted a net loss of $288.5 million, or 18 cents a share, including $34 million in charges from its workforce restructuring. That compared to a profit of $23 million, or one cent, a year earlier.

Snap ended the fourth quarter with 375 million daily users, a 17% increase. In the first three months of the year, the company estimates 382 million to 384 million people will use its platform daily.

Snap has become a bellwether for other digital advertising companies. Last year, it was the first to raise concerns about the slowdown in marketer spending online and to fire a significant number of employees—20% of its workforce—to cut costs in the face of falling revenue.

The company has spent the last two quarters refocusing the organization, cutting projects that don’t contribute to user and revenue growth.

In the first quarter, Snap expects the environment to “remain challenging as we expect the headwinds we have faced over the past year to persist.”

Investors will get additional information about the state of the digital ad market when Meta and Alphabet report earnings later this week.

—Bloomberg News

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Twitter Outlines New Platform Rules Which Emphasize Reduced Reach, as Opposed to Suspensions



Twitter Outlines New Platform Rules Which Emphasize Reduced Reach, as Opposed to Suspensions

After reinstating thousands of previously suspended accounts, as part of new chief Elon Musk’s ‘amnesty’ initiative, Twitter has now outlined how it will be enforcing its rules from now on, which includes less restrictive measures for some violations.

As explained by Twitter:

“We have been proactively reinstating previously suspended accounts […] We did not reinstate accounts that engaged in illegal activity, threats of harm or violence, large-scale spam and platform manipulation, or when there was no recent appeal to have the account reinstated. Going forward, we will take less severe actions, such as limiting the reach of policy-violating Tweets or asking you to remove Tweets before you can continue using your account.”

This is in line with Musk’s previously stated ‘freedom of speech, not freedom of reach’ approach, which will see Twitter leaning more towards leaving content active in the app, but reducing its impact algorithmically, if it breaks any rules.

Which means a lot of tweets that would have previously been deemed violative will now remain in the app, and while Musk notes that no ads will be displayed against such content, that could be difficult to enforce, given the way the tweet timeline functions.

But it does align with Musk’s free speech approach, and reduces the onus on Twitter, to some degree, in moderating speech. It will still need to assess each instance, case-by-case, but users themselves will be less aware of penalties – though Musk has also flagged adding more notifications and explainers to outline any reach penalties as well.

“Account suspension will be reserved for severe or ongoing, repeat violations of our policies. Severe violations include but are not limited to: engaging in illegal content or activity, inciting or threatening violence or harm, privacy violations, platform manipulation or spam, and engaging in targeted harassment of our users.

Which still means that a lot of content that these users had been suspended for previously would still result in suspension now, and it leaves a lot up to Twitter management in allocating severity of impact in certain actions.

How do you definitively measure threats of violence or harm, for example? Former President Donald Trump was sanctioned under this policy, but many, including Musk, were critical of Twitter’s decision to do so, given that Trump is an elected representative.

In other nations, too, Twitter has been pressured to remove tweets under these policies, and it’ll be interesting to see how Twitter 2.0 handles such, given its stated more lax approach to moderation, despite its rules remaining largely the same.

Already, questions have been raised on this front – Twitter recently removed links to a BBC documentary that’s critical of the Indian Government, at the request of India’s PM. Twitter hasn’t offered any official explanation for the action, but with Musk also working with the Indian Government to secure partnerships for his other business, Tesla, questions have been raised as to how he will manage both impacts concurrently.

In essence, Twitter’s approach has changed when it chooses to do so, but the rules, as such, will effectively be governed by Musk himself. And as we’ve already seen, he will make drastic rules changes based on personal agendas and experience.

Twitter says that, starting February 1st, any previously suspended users will be able to appeal their suspension, and be evaluated under its new criteria for reinstatement.

It’s also targeting February for a launch of its new account penalties notifications.

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4 new social media features you need to know about this week



New social media features to know this week

Social media never stands still. Every week there are new features — and it’s hard for the busy comms pro to stay up-to-date on it all.

We’ve got you covered.

Here’s what you need to know about this week.


Social media sleuth Matt Navarra reported on Twitter that LinkedIn will soon make the newsletters you subscribe to through the site visible to other users.

This should aid newsletter discovery by adding in an element of social proof: if it’s good enough for this person I like and respect, it’s good enough for me. It also might be anopportunity to get your toe in the water with LinkedIn’s newsletter features.


After admitting they went a little crazy on Reels and ignored their bread and butter of photographs, Instagram continues to refine its platform and algorithm. Although there were big changes over the last few weeks, these newer changes are subtler but still significant.



First, the animated avatars will be more prominent on profiles. Users can now choose to flip between the cartoony, waving avatar and their more traditional profile picture, rather than picking one or the other, TechCrunch reported, seemingly part of a push to incorporate metaverse-esque elements into the app.

Instagram also appears to have added an option to include a lead form on business profiles. We say “appears” because, as Social Media Today reports, the feature is not yet listed as an official feature, though it has rolled out broadly.

The feature will allow businesses to use standard forms or customize their own, including multiple choice questions or short answer.


In the chaotic world of Twitter updates, this week is fairly staid — with a useful feature for advertisers.

The platform will roll out the ability to promote tweets among search results. As Twitter’s announcement points out, someone actively searching for a term could signal stronger intent than someone merely passively scrolling a feed.

Which of these new features are you most interested in? That LinkedIn newsletter tool could be great for spreading the word — and for discovering new reads.

Allison Carter is executive editor of PR Daily. Follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.


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