Over the past few months, people have asked me about Facebook’s advertiser verification process: who we verify, how we do it, and where we’ll go next.

First, let’s start with what Facebook already does. We require a wide swath of people and businesses to go through some sort of verification. That includes political advertisers in 95 countries and territories, or Pages with either large followings in the US and Pages we think are trying to mislead people. …

Inside of an iPhone 6s (iFixit)

If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.

William Edwards Deming (October 14, 1900 — December 20, 1993)

Years ago I discovered Genichi Taguchi and the work he did to help move manufacturing towards a model of continuous, incremental improvement (more generally, this has become known as kaizen or 改善). More recently, I returned to looking at this, and stumbled upon some of the foundational work of W. Edwards Deming.

Deming initially became known for his work in Japan after the second world war where he is credited as one of…

Marshall Mesa, Boulder (photo by Rob Leathern)

My first company was also called Optimal (after we first called it XA.net, that is). My cofounders and I started THE NEW Optimal with the idea that we would give people a way to block ads while still paying content providers. I’d seen publishers struggle with online ads. I’d seen my brother, an award-winning automotive journalist in South Africa, struggle to make ends meet working for a recently-defunct magazine, before as a freelancer and also working as a partner on a well-known South African car blog. …

I’m starting a new role at Facebook in February

Source: Wikipedia

In a few weeks, I’ll be joining Facebook as a Product Director on the Ads team, where I’ll be focused on protecting people’s trust in Facebook’s business products. I’ll build tools and policies that ensure positive experiences with ads and reduce fraud for people and advertisers, and I’ll work across the company to constantly improve people’s experiences with businesses on Facebook.

As many of you who read my Medium posts know, this is an area I’m very passionate about! My family and I will be moving back to the Bay Area in a few weeks.

I’m excited to join an…

Why we should delete tweets if an article title is corrected

This was something I wrote 4 years ago, on 11/24/2012, seems even more relevant now:

Has this ever happened to you? Someone writes an article with a salacious headline, you click and read the article only to discover that it’s really NOT what you thought it would be, that the headline isn’t quite accurate? Or how about, you see a headline on Twitter and you retweet it, without even reading the article at all just because you think the article if it matches that headline will be something your followers (all 20 of them!) will be interested in?

We’re increasingly…

Not yet. Soon, they might demand action from ad networks

Buzzfeed wrote “How Teens In The Balkans Are Duping Trump Supporters With Fake News”, and that their primary motivation is economic and not idealogical or political. Counting on free distribution of these questionable stories by credulous users, these website creators figure that “the best way to generate [social] shares… is to publish sensationalist and often false content that caters to Trump supporters”.

Source: CNN Money

Simply looking at one of the websites identified in the article, worldpoliticus.com (anonymously registered via a privacy proxy) we see advertising from ad networks including those run by Amazon.com, Google and Revcontent (the latter a Florida-based company synonymous…

Here’s a way you can do both at a realistic price

A good friend told me this week that they subscribed to the Washington Post and were surprised on their phone to see the same page-hogging ads. “I’m a subscriber, surely that means I get fewer ads or no ads instead? Huh.”

Yes, it’s animated

My single-article visit to a major website is probably worth between $0.01 and $0.03 to them

This is assuming 5 ads on a page, at an average cost-per-mille (CPM) of $2.00 to $5.00 — my guess is many sites have more ads at far lower CPMs than that, but some premium websites have ads at higher CPMs, but this is the right order-of-magnitude.

So how do you pay directly instead?

I wanted to block ads on my iPhone. But I didn’t want…

The folly of making your personal identity = that of your business


“I became unethical, that’s it,” he said, tearfully. “I totally lost perspective.” … [his] financial fraud victims includes investors and retirees, his colleagues, associates, old college roommates, his nanny, and even his mother.”

Financial advisor sentenced to nine years in prison for fraud schemes, Boston Globe, 6/17/2016

I was shocked to learn a few months ago that someone with whom I’d played rugby back in university had been sent to prison for financial fraud involving a company he’d founded called Graduate Leverage, whose goal was provide loans and…

The plight of the bluefin tuna (and our online attention)

Pacific Bluefin Tuna, orma.com

The average mature Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis) measures 1.5m in length and weighs over 60kg (130 pounds) but specimens twice as long and 7 times as heavy have been seen. The Pacific bluefin lives for up to 26 years, and can move through the water at up to 30 miles per hour (the larger Atlantic bluefin can hit 43 miles per hour). Just last month, the Pew Charitable Trusts said the pacific bluefin tuna population was at risk of collapse if “the management of the critically endangered resource was allowed to continue unchecked”.

According to a May 2016 article…

You’ll need to visit 343 different sites to do so (if they work)

Mistake number 1: I visited the website of American Giant, a maker of apparently-popular hard-to-get-but-not-really hoodies. You might know them from their frequent appearances on BusinessInsider.com, and in little text+image ads on other news websites.

BusinessInsider wants you to know how good these hoodies are

Frequent readers here will know that I typically block ads (paying via app.optimal.com in order to feel okay about doing so) but every now and again I need to test things and so I let down the shields. I ask brands on Twitter how to opt-out of seeing their retargeting ads every now and then (they usually have no idea, or give terrible advice), and…

Rob Leathern

ads & integrity product management at facebook - our team protects people from mistakes or malicious behavior by businesses

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