Breastfeeding Workshop, Pants for Postpartum Comfort, Consent Education: These are some of the services and products featured in the ads that Facebook has rejected, according to a new report from the Center for Intimacy Justice.
For the report, the nonprofit’s founder, Jackie Rottman, interviewed employees and leaders from more than 35 companies, focusing on issues related to women’s sexual health – including pelvic pain, menopause, menstruation and fertility – and surveyed dozens more. (This survey was created in partnership with pelvic floor physical therapy company Origin.)
All 60 companies denied the ads through Facebook, and about half of them said their accounts had been suspended at some point, the report said on Tuesday. In most cases, Facebook labeled ads as having “adult content” or promoting “adult products and services.”
In its advertising policies, Facebook states that “advertisements promoting sexual and reproductive health products or services, such as contraceptives and family planning, should be targeted to people 18 years of age and older and should not focus on sexual pleasure.”
On its website, Facebook provides examples of ads that are not permitted (“Buy our sex toys for your adult pleasure”) and those (“New moisturizing lubricants to relieve vaginal dryness on a daily basis” and “Study Safe Sex.” With branded condoms “).
However, Ms. Rotman found many ads targeting men that appeared to violate the social media platform’s policy but were accepted by Facebook: advertisements for condoms that promised “pleasure”; One for lubricant (“lotion made for men’s singles only”); And for another erectile dysfunction pill that promises a “wet hot American summer.”
“Right now, it’s arbitrary where they would say that the product is allowed in a way that it doesn’t allow in a way that we think really lacks an understanding of sexual orientation and health,” Ms. Said Rotman. She said it was a “systematic problem” and added that it was especially harmful for small businesses.
“We welcome advertisements for sexual wellness products but we prohibit nudity and have specific rules on how these products can be marketed on our platform,” a spokesperson for Facebook’s parent company Metana wrote in an email. “We provide advertisers with detailed information about what types of products and descriptions we allow in advertisements.”
The added spokesperson said that Facebook makes mistakes in enforcing its advertising policies and has overturned some of the ad rejection experienced by some of the companies mentioned in the report.
One company that has struggled to get ads approved by Facebook is Joylux, which sells menopausal health products, including a device inserted into the vagina and used to strengthen the pelvic floor.
“Our customer is a Facebook customer,” said Colette Corty, chief executive of Joylux, which founded the company in 2014. “She is a 50-year-old woman. Facebook is the best place for her to be educated on menopause related topics. Ms. The court added that Facebook is Joelux’s top customer-editing channel.
But, she said, Joylux employees have long been confused about Facebook’s policies and how they are implemented.
“Because of the nature of our product, its appearance,” she said, adding that Facebook and other companies believe it is “pornographic.”
Since 2017, Joelux’s Facebook account has been shut down twice, Ms. The court said. The company did not give her a reason.
Heather Diesel, vice president of marketing at Joelux, said she had discovered that “any ad that goes directly to our site will be automatically rejected because of the word ‘vagina’.”
A Meta spokeswoman said Facebook does not have a complete ban on words like “menopause” or “vagina” but takes into account “how each ad is located”.
Over the years, Joylux has reversed its approach to Facebook advertising. But even with Joelux’s copies and changes to its images, many of its advertisements are still rejected in the initial review process. Two years ago, Joylux began working with an agency that helps the company appeal ad disclaimers. Usually, after an appeal, the ads are approved.
But the process is time consuming and expensive, Ms. The court said, and the resulting ads are not helpful to consumers. “We can’t show what the product looks like and we can’t say what it does,” she said.
A company in Intimate Rose, Kansas City, MO, which sells vaginal dilators and pelvic-floor vets and sticks, is facing similar problems. “We usually always refuse,” said Adrian Fleming, the company’s digital media manager.
She provided many examples, including an ad for a fully dressed, smiling couple (“Live, Smile and Love Again with Intimate Rose’s Pelvic Health Products,” read her copy). The other two commercials featured videos of women discussing how the weight of an intimate rose helped them with incontinence. Ms. Fleming said all ads were rejected because Facebook classifies them as “adult products or services.”
In its Adult Products section of the Commerce Policy, Meta gives several examples of prohibited items: “Sex toys, sexual enhancement products, sexually oriented adult products such as pornography, or used or worn underwear, nude images, including partial child nudity, even if not sexual in nature. . “
But the policy states that “products such as lubricants or condoms that do not focus on sexual pleasure or sexual enhancement” are allowed.
In an exchange with Facebook he shared with The New York Times, Ms. Fleming pointed out that the company’s products are not intended for intercourse or pleasure. In response, the Facebook representative pointed to the commercial policy and said that the ad was properly rejected, and could not disclose further details as it could be used to block future policy.
“It comes down to the reviewer’s decision,” said Aaron Wilt, one of the founders of Intimate Rose.
Businesses are not the only organizations that use Facebook ads. RNW Media is building a non-profit, online community for social change in the Netherlands – including Love Matters, which focuses on sexual and reproductive health and rights and relies on Facebook ads to reach its audience.
Over a six-year period, about 1,800 ads posted by Love Matters on Facebook were rejected, according to a report on the sustainability of journalism and news media presented at the United Nations Internet Governance Forum in 2020. Mostly it was because. That ads were classified as “adult content” or “sex toys.”
Michael Okun Olich, social media director of Love Matters Kenya, said that Facebook had recently rejected two advertisements submitted for the promotion of the “escort service”. One of them was about consent; Another was about living with HIV
He said the appeal process takes him anywhere from a week to months and he rarely gets a chance to talk to “a real man”. To avoid rejection, Mr. Okun Olich has started using slang and fruit emojis for words describing certain body parts (a tactic that has been successful for companies like Hims, which sells Viagra).
But RNW media human rights expert Charlotte Petty is concerned about the consequences of being indirect or sympathetic. “There are ways we can reduce censorship, but at some point, we’re compromising our own work,” she said.
Facebook’s ad platform has been frequently criticized in recent years. In 2018, a Washington Post investigation found that dozens of ads for LGBTQ-related events, companies and nonprofits were blocked by social networks because they were considered “political.” Facebook, which requires advertisers to go through a number of additional levels to allow advertising to focus on politics or social issues, has largely ruled out advertising rejection.
In November, Meta said it would stop targeting advertisers based on their engagement with content related to health, race and ethnicity, political affiliation, religion and sexual orientation among other identities. Tools have been used to discriminate against certain groups and to spam people.
When it comes to sexual health and wellness companies, Ms. Rotman hopes Facebook can work faster. “This is a problem that can be corrected,” she said. “It’s not as complicated as defending democracy or elections. It’s about finding a way to make sure women’s health ads aren’t being blocked. It’s just a matter of Facebook deciding that this is something they’re going to fix.
Ryan Mack Contribution Report.