Facebook Regulates Advertising Content

advertiseI’ve heard many friends uprise to give Facebook encouragement to keep their advertising clean and family-friendly. This is good. When people speak, the organization hears, and changes are made, and good policies will stay intact. So-called adult content on the web is rampant from all sorts of web surfers, and it’s not difficult to stumble upon stuff you don’t want to see or think about. Well, Facebook is one online community that strives to honor your request to keep the web clean. Here’s the lowdown.

Out of a staff of 850, Facebook has a department of 150 people “policing” the contents for inappropriate advertising content. They click through flagged images on the site, judge them for cleanliness, remove them if need be, or let them pass if Facebook’s policies deem the content safe. An article on Newsweek puts it like this:

Facebook describes these staffers as an internal police force, charged with regulating users’ decorum, hunting spammers and working with actual law-enforcement agencies to help solve crimes. Part hall monitors, part vice cops, these employees are key weapons in Facebook’s efforts to maintain its image as a place that’s safe for corporate advertisers—more so than predecessor social networks like Friendster and MySpace.

Sample of Facebook advertising

Sample of Facebook advertising

In spite of what some conservatives fear, Facebook’s objective is to remain friendly and available to 100% of the public. This means they are interested in highschool dropouts and homeschool moms having accounts on Facebook and participating in the web community. To make this possible, they know that censoring R-rated content is necessary, but therein lies a balancing act.

Facebook wants 100% of the web community. They want the homeschool mom, and the highschool dropout. So, in defense of the content the average Joe wants in his account—pictures from his pool party, videos of hanging out with friends from a pajama party—Facebook evaluates the content users flag to decide whether it’s really “heathen” or just close to it. “Close to it” means it stays available on the site, because they can’t say a guy in swim trunks at the beach with his wife in a bikini and kids building a sand castle is “adult” content. Or could they? Would you classify the scene I just described as inappropriate?

Facebook seems to think it’s safe, but other social faux pas are not; like alcohol abuse, drug use, violence, forms of physical abuse…. Still, “soft porn” passes scrutiny. So if it’s “rated R” it isn’t accepted, but if it’s rated PG-13 it all okay. What about personal users’ questionable content—profile pics, videos, photo albums, etc.? Does this content that have to pass a filtration like the advertising?

This is not just a concern for Facebook. The issue lies before us on all fronts of social networking on the world-wide web. Twitter, Flickr, Digg, StumbleUpon, Picassa, MySpace, Google…. On and on the list goes of sites that are promoted for general public use with inappropriate content, and website managers have been taking

Some online communities

Just a few social networks

actions to govern the content more and more. In some respects, MySpace’s policies are more effective/conservative than Facebook’s, but on the flip side, MySpace is known in general as the watch-your-back-when-you’re-in-the-dark-alley version of social networks. Still, there are other sites that are much worse than MySpace and Facebook, and if the content is deemed inappropriate by anyones standards it brings up an important issue.

Who decides whether the content on a popular publicly used website is appropriate? Who sets the standards that “our site is safe” the rest of the web will emulate? Facebook is powerful, and has a growing number of admirers that would say “if it’s good enough for Facebook, then it’s good enough for me.” This is also true of Twitter and Google. Respectable networking sites are entering in critically important ethical issues and they are using what set of standards to approve their content?

The answer is they make the policies up as they go along. You didn’t figure a site like Facebook would use the Bible to define morality, would you? But since it is up to the site’s users to give feedback (and it’s usually very easy to do so), the community of Christians on the web have an opportunity for much needed influence. It’s high-time—conservatives and Christians alike—take their potential seriously and encourage online communities to keep the Internet a family-friendly environment. As much as possible, anyway.

What I want to suggest is that if you want to tell Facebook, or your other social networks, what you think about the content and the general understanding of a “PG-13 rating” of content, then you should politely and professionally make contact with the organizations that run these websites. A lot of conservative activism is viewed as irrational, impulsive, judgmental, and angry when we try to make a statement with a Facebook group named something like “HATE the Smut on Facebook—Stop the END of Civilization!” Impulsive statements of worldview like this make Christians look like whack-jobs. To make a positive influence, give specific feedback to the social networks via an email to their staff. Keeping the direct forms of communication is paramount to positive pressure.

On a light note, and for your enjoyment, here’s a bit of video advertising that had to say a lot with very little. Kudos to miquito (alias) the gifted creator of this light entertaining bit of advertising. I liked it.

Memoirs: Liz’s Surgery, and the Blessings that Come With It

My wife Liz, affectionately pet-named Peach, is four months pregnant with our second child. Reese, our first born, it eight months old, and for most people it seems the babies were/will be born too close together. Liz and I are well-adapted to the idea of children as we were both home educated and spent lots of time with our siblings growing up. We both had good Christian upbringings and were taught children are a blessing. When we learned that we would have Reese about a year and a half after we married we couldn’t have been more happy. We are glad to be parents and raise children to the best of our ability.

When we learned a second child was on the way, we had to rethink our lives a bit sooner than we’d planned. Well, we hadn’t had plans to have our second child as so soon after Reese was born, but it was not an inconvenience whatsoever. It did mean we would need to change priorities in our budget and jobs at this time. Liz and I both knew we wanted Liz to work from home with the children when the second child came along, so now was the time for her to leave the corporate world. Liz had worked with me at the non-profit company  American Vision for two years. Making this adjustment instantly meant I was the primary provider of the family for the foreseeable future.

But the second baby will not be born till mid September of this year, so our work lives and weekly routine would be the same for a couple months yet. Then the unexpected happened. At home early one evening last week after a long day of errands, Liz was trying to turn on the ceiling fans to get the air circulating in the house. It was a little warm. Well, when Liz tried to reach the chain in the guest bedroom, a little out of her reach, she slipped and fell backward on her wrist.

The fall wasn’t so severe in and of itself. If she hadn’t been pregnant it probably wouldn’t have hurt her more than a bruise. But being pregnant, her nutrients are primarily going to the baby, and we didn’t realize, but her bones were weaker. I learned just yesterday that this is a good thing in the case of some bones because a pregnant woman’s pelvic bones will need to be softer to spread apart to make room for the growing baby. However, it wasn’t good thing for Liz’s arm.

Liz was home alone with Reese when it happened. She thought the pain might go away at first, but it didn’t take long for her to call me at the office and explain I needed to come home; it was an emergency.

At the emergency room we were informed they couldn’t fix the arm without giving her anesthesia. They couldn’t give it to her because she is pregnant. So they wrapped her arm and told us we needed to see a doctor specialist. We were referred to the Pinnacle Group’s practice. It just so happens an old family friend of mine, Dr. Stan Dysart, is a member of Pinnacle. We made arrangements as soon as possible to get her in and have it fixed with him.

So the wrist was broken Wednesday last week. We saw Dr. Dysart Friday. On that occasion, because Liz had a hyperventilation reaction to the meds to numb her writst, her muscles contracted and they weren’t able to pull the broken bones back into place. We had to reschedule for surgery ASAP.

Surgical center waiting room

Surgical center waiting room

That surgery was today. It just finished. I’m sitting in the waiting room at the Marietta Surgical Center of Georgia. Dr. Dysart just told me that everything went all right—the fix made the damage unnoticeable on x-rays. Liz will be out of it for a few hours yet, but the worst is over. Pain will be with her for awhile, but we’re over the hill.

So I want to note that with all the changes that had to be made since Liz couldn’t work, or so much as take care of our baby Reese, the help from others has flooded in. I’m grateful for all the prayers, help, and general support we’ve had of late with Liz’s condition. So this is my thanks to all of you, and I wanted you to know that Liz is all right. Please keep her in your prayers that she will make a good recovery.

Liz shortly after the surgery

Liz shortly after the surgery

And if you want to know what else you can pray for, keep in mind that Liz will not go back to work between now and the time the baby is born like we’d originally planned. I know that the Lord will take care of us, and He has, but ask Him to give me a steady form of additional income to provide for the family in the weeks and months to come. God has been good and the medical bills are covered. I’m grateful He’s answering the request in advance. Still, keep it in mind as your prayer for us that we are making a big step from a two income household to a one income household.

I’m reminded in this experience of how good God is, and how He takes care of us. I believe bad things happen not because God isn’t good, but because he is good and He has a better, ultimate purpose for the the seemingly bad things that happen in our lives. Everything seemingly bad has a redemptive nature. Anything bad can and is for good. God is good, and this minor inconvenience/challenge in our lives is petty compared to wight of the good we have to gain from God’s care and blessing. The baby on the way is a blessing. The help we’ve got from friends and family is a blessing. God financially meeting our needs is a blessing.

So Liz’s wrist brakes, and in it all, I can say that God is good.

Role Models in a Role Modeless Society

Raised in a Christian home with a great home-education, I was introduced to several great examples of character. Not all had to be Christian, nor did they have to be perfect. The examples of quality were all unique in their own way. Some were successful in business—others in family. The honorable qualities from each man and women from history was gleaned and applied to my life. However, this is not the norm for young people’s education today. Most families have great difficulty finding role models for their children. Continue reading