With nearly every passing week, there seems to be a fresh controversy about how Facebook Inc. (FB) or Alphabet Inc./Google (GOOGL) either regulates or fails to regulate content that's shown to millions of consumers. Or about what content is eligible to be monetized via their massive ad platforms.
Though the near-term damage should be limited, the companies are facing very thorny situations. If they crack down too hard on certain types of content, they risk angering a subset of users. And if they don't crack down much, they risk upsetting another group of users and/or advertisers.
And either way, Facebook and Google's actions are likely to yield calls for greater government scrutiny of two companies whose enormous and steadily-growing role in determining what content and ads consumers see is already making many uneasy.
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On Sept. 13, Facebook outlined rules banning several types of content from being monetized on its platform -- whether via Instant Articles loading within Facebook's core app, "branded content" that a publisher is paid by a third party to distribute or the "mid-roll" video ads the company has begun running against professional content. Notably, Facebook says it will use both "automated and manual enforcement methods" to decide what content can't be monetized.