Facebook game app ad removed for domestic violence

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A Facebook ad for a mobile gaming app by Betta Games has been removed after it was found to violate the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) code of ethics, “Advertising must not feature or depict violence unless is justifiable in the context of the advertised product or service”.

The advert – which Mumbrella could not locate – featured a woman with a baby using a broom. A man holding a bottle of wine walks into the room and trips over a shovel left by the woman. The woman goes to help the man but he pushes her away, then stands on top of her in a threatening manner. The woman with the baby then leaves. The ad ends with the gameplay of the advertised app.

It’s unclear which gaming app the complaints are aimed at, as Betta Games produces several. One of the other Facebook ads it is currently running, as of January 27, can be seen below, which is not the ad that was found to be infringing. The Facebook ad was posted by the “Love Diary: Cube Matching Game” Facebook page, although the spot ends with the title card for “Mansion Story”. The page was originally called “Redecor-Mansion Story” before being changed to its most recent title on April 16, 2021.

There, a woman returns home and finds her partner cheating on her. She then pursues her partner and lover with a bloody cleaver, as the gameplay is shown to advance the story.

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In another Facebook ad from the same Facebook page, the same woman sees her ex-partner with their new partner driving a car with her daughter. She has a car accident and the daughter seems to suffer head injuries, forcing the couple to move.

A third Facebook ad shows a child playing with matches and setting himself on fire. The parent attempts to save the child, but ultimately fails and the spot ends. We don’t know what happens to the child.

Ads for mobile game apps have gained notoriety for being left-centric, often featuring soap opera-style stories that don’t seem related to the gameplay of the advertised app.

None of the spots above is the advertisement found to be infringing.

For the ad found to violate the Code, the complaint read, “The ad and the app itself encourage domestic violence and abuse.”

Betta Games’ initial response stated, “As a mobile game developer, publisher and most importantly advertiser, we want to get the best compatible users and we always do our best to follow the regulations and policy of all our partners, flat -marketing forms and domains.

“To ensure ads will comply with all regulations and policies, we go the extra mile, including but not less than the following:

  1. Check first and no inappropriate creations will show up
  2. Ad network review. We cooperate with major ad networks, such as Facebook, and they have the strictest creative review flow. If they find that the creatives don’t follow the guidelines, the ads will be rejected.
  3. All ads will be delivered to the right people. When we create the campaign we choose the right audience, when we release the game we also choose the right age users.
  4. The game involved in the announcement is a game combining a storyline which is full of drama and we sometimes make creations from the storylines.

In its considerations, the Community Advertising Standards Panel (the Panel) concluded that: “there is no justification for depictions or suggestions of domestic violence in game advertising, and noted that there is a heightened level of concern regarding representations of violence against women in light of the increase in domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The committee therefore concluded that the advertisement violated the Code.

In response, Betta Games said, “We have removed the ad involved in Case 0338-21. We fully comply with your Code rules. And we will continue to provide the best gaming experience to our audience and users.


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