Facebook is starting to care why you hate certain ads

Adverts are pretty much universally hated online. Sites can try to justify their presence as much as they like but visitors will still view them with loathing. Among the many complaints levelled at Facebook, the irrelevance of many of the advertisements that appear on users' pages is a major cause of complaints. For quite some time now Facebook has given users the chance to voice a dislike of individual ads -- opt to hide an ad via the official Facebook method and you can indicate that you find it irrelevant, offensive, repetitive, spammy, and so on -- but it has been hard to know just how much notice has been taken of these complaints. Now Facebook wants to assure users that it is listening and that more relevant ads will be displayed.

Hopefully this can be taken to mean "ads that are more relevant" rather than "there will be more ads and they will be relevant", but the point is that Facebook wants to ensure that you see ads that might actually be of interest. Two new updates will help to tailor your ad experience. The first seems like a fairly obvious one:

For years, we have given people the choice to hide an ad so they no longer see it in their News Feed. We’ve also looked at these hides and used them as a signal that other people on Facebook might not want to see that ad. Now, we are going a step further by taking into account the specific reason they didn’t want to see that ad, and use that as a signal to inform whether or not we show the ad to other people.

Again, the wording isn’t perfectly clear, but the implication seems to be that up until now the fact that you indicated that an ad was offensive was not taken into account.

Quite why users were asked to specify a reason for hiding an ad was needed (a placebo?) but it's good to hear that it will now be noted and acted upon.

The second update gives great weighting to the reasoning given by people who do not block many advertisements. If someone is usually happy to put up with ads and they're suddenly moved to block one, Facebook will now take that more seriously.

The announcement in the Facebook newsroom includes an interesting snippet of information - apparently only a few people complain about ads: "These updates are designed to affect the ads that a small set of people give us negative feedback on."