Facebook: Don't even think about putting Google+ ads here

Facebook confirms that it did remove Michael Lee Johnson's ad that mentioned Google+ and that it closed his account. However, it says it didn't close the account because of the Google+ ad.

It seems only moments ago that Google+ aficionado Michael Lee Johnson rose to prominence after a Facebook ad he tried to place--asking people to follow him on Google+-- was disappeared by Facebook .

Should you remember all the colors to this fine rainbow of a tale, Johnson claimed that Facebook banned all his other ad campaigns too.

Initially, Facebook was silent on the issue. However, in a fit of unusual doggedness, I squeezed the company until a trickle of juice emerged.

Yes indeed, Facebook did ban Johnson's ad that mentioned Google+. Yes, indeed, his other advertising accounts were dismembered. There is, however, a however.

The offending ad for--or, at least mentioning--Google+. Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

A Facebook representative told me: "As many companies do, and has been our policy for quite some time, we reserve the right not to run ads that promote competitive products or services."

But was Johnson's ad really an ad for Google+? We will return to that in a moment.

Let's allow the Facebook rep to continue: "In this specific case, we did not disable any [advertising] accounts as a result of running ads for competitive services. The account in question was, in fact, a separate account that was disabled for violating other parts of our terms of service. In accordance with our policy, we did stop running the specific ads, but this action did not result in the deactivation of any accounts."

Naturally, the representative declined to be more specific about Johnson's alleged transgressions. What is clear, though, is that Facebook believes Google is stomping on its pristinely manicured social lawn. And it doesn't like it.

But here's a question: Was Johnson's ad actually an ad for Google+? Headlined "Add Michael to Google+," the copy read: "If you're lucky enough to have a Google+ account, add Michael Lee Johnson, Internet Geek, App Developer, Technological Virtuoso."

If Wittgenstein, Bertrand Russell, and Rupert Murdoch sat and debated this ad, they might conclude that it was an ad for Michael Lee Johnson, not for Google+. At no point does it say Google+ is better than Facebook. At no point does it say Johnson believes Facebook is a company full of clowns on bicycles.

It merely serves to make Johnson's ego feel slightly more warmed by the idea of enjoying some artificial friendship wherever he can find it.

Facebook's position seems to be that any ad that even mentions Google+ is verboten. The company also believes that Facebook users have plenty of other places to mention Google+, such as on their own walls or in their own updates (Some people have even chosen to use the Google+ logo as their profile picture.) Why should the company allow the mention of Google+ in ads?

This might prove to be a difficult decision as the Battle of the Social Smugginses plays out. Google will very soon roll out its business pages .

Then many companies will choose to have a presence on both social networks. What if one of those companies decides that, in the interests of the open sharing so fostered by Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, its ads should direct customers not only to its Facebook page, but also to its Google+ page?

Would Facebook tell a large corporation that it can't do that? Very likely. Would it be wise? As with the wisdom of every dominant figure in world history, we will only know in hindsight.

 

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