Posted on: November 18, 2021, 11:14h. 

Last updated on: November 18, 2021, 11:14h.

The UK Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has welcomed the announcement that Facebook will allow users to opt out of gambling-related advertisements across its social media platform. It still remains to be seen, however, how effective the new policy will be.

Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has found a friend in the UK’s BGC, despite increasing lack of confidence in other countries around the world. (Image source: NBC News)

The new Facebook advertising safeguard was welcomed by the trade association. This will help its members to continue to support the ‘Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising’ that was implemented last year.

BGC members have to ensure that social media ads are targeted at consumers over 25 unless they can be specifically targeted at those over 18. As a sign of the industry’s determination to raise standards, at least 20% of their radio and TV ads contain safer gambling messages.

Back-to-back monitoring sweeps by the Advertising Standards Association (ASA) revealed the industry’s collective efforts to minimize exposure to gambling ads.

Facebook is reportedly introducing opt-out options for advertising content as part of a series of new measures to improve its online environment as it looks to gain support and trust from regulators at all levels.

Michael Dugher, CEO of the BGC, stated that this was yet another sign of the group’s commitment toward raising standards within the regulated sector.

“I welcome this move by Facebook and I would urge all social media and search platforms to provide the ability for users to opt-out of viewing betting adverts,” he added. “The regulated betting and gaming industry is determined to promote safer gambling, unlike the unsafe and growing online black market, which has none of the safeguards which are commonplace among BGC members.”

Too Soon to Tell

Facebook has a history of making promises to clean up its act and its image, but has repeatedly demonstrated that it isn’t able to fulfill its obligations. This has caused the company numerous regulatory issues in the past, and could cause it problems Down Under.

Reset Australia just released a scathing report showing that Facebook is not doing enough to keep gambling ads away from children, despite a mandate to be more proactive with its controls and protocols. This has put the company in a bad light in Australia, with Reset Australia highlighting that the same problems that existed six months ago are still present today.

If Facebook is, in fact, working to become a better corporate citizen in the UK, it could be for ulterior motives and not because of any internal call for better social responsibility. There is already a strong presence of social gaming on Facebook’s platforms and, this past September, it began introducing fantasy sports and predictive games.

Should the company, soon to known worldwide as Meta, be interested in delving deeper into iGaming and sports betting, it would have a difficult time convincing any regulatory body that it deserves a license without making major and permanent changes from the top down.

According to a recent report published in the Los Angeles Times titled What Facebook knew about its Latino-aimed disinformation problem, years after Facebook first came under fire for allowing misinformation to be distributed unchecked, it hasn’t made significant improvements. Notably, misinformation on Spanish-speaking channels is rampant, despite repeated attempts by groups to work with Facebook on changes.

According to Jacobo Licona of Equis Labs, as quoted by the media outlet, “Facebook has not been transparent at all. He added that Facebook “has not been cooperative with lawmakers or Latinx-serving organizations” working on disinformation.

If Facebook isn’t able to successfully address issues that it was meant to control years ago, including an inability to offer privacy, it’s difficult to believe it would deserve a spot in the regulated iGaming space.



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