Zynga’s most recent Facebook game, FishVille, has temporarily been taken offline by Facebook for advertising violations.
FishVille will remain suspended, Facebook tells us, “until Facebook is satisfied that Zynga demonstrates compliance with Facebook restrictions — as well as Zynga’s own restrictions — on the ads it offers users.”
This is a relatively light slap on the wrist since the game only launched two days ago and had a couple of thousand users (Update: Zynga says FishVille had 875,000 users yesterday. wow). Zynga’s other games, including FarmVille with 63 million monthly users, remain online, despite the fact that they were showing the same ads.
But this does send a clear message to Zynga and other game developers that Facebook isn’t ignoring the problem. Whether it’s a real concern over the user experience or simply embarrassment from the press suggesting Facebook is a haven for scammers is somewhat irrelevant.
Facebook has also shut down a total of four ad networks in recent months for ad violations, including Tatto Media and Gambit. Other networks, such as SendMe Mobile, which was founded by ex-CNET executives, have largely taken their place by offering similarly questionable offers that trick users into mobile subscriptions.
This is also a bit of an arms race. Zynga may be specifically filtering Facebook employees from seeing ads that violate Facebook terms and conditions, making it difficult for Facebook to enforce the rules.
And the relationship between the two companies is complicated. Facebook battling Zynga on the advertising scams. But Zynga is also one of Facebook’s largest advertisers, probably accounting for between 10% and 20% of total Facebook revenue.