Banned by Facebook: An Exercise in Futility

Some months ago, I logged in to my Facebook profile to throw a few targeted ads up. I’d done Facebook advertising before and found it to be moderately successful — enough that I aimed to do a campaign every couple of months.

Imagine my surprise when I logged in one morning to find this:

For some unknown and clearly arbitrary reason, the gods at Facebook banned my account for running “abusive” ads. The essence of the message above is: “You tried to post an abusive ad. We’ve banned you. There’s nothing you can do about it. Now go away.”

This is bizarre to me. The only campaigns I’ve run are simple and certainly not abusive. Naturally, the Advertising Guidelines they’ve posted don’t help an iota. Under Facebook’s rules, one can’t post an ad that contain “political agendas,” that “advocates against any organization,” or is “grammatically [in]correct and [doesn’t] contain proper sentence structure.”

Good thing the web as a whole doesn’t have that last condition.

The ad I ran that appeared to trigger this ban was this:

banned_ad

I’ve read Facebook’s guidelines several times. The only thing I can think of that bugged Facebook was the use of the CBC logo. However, considering CBC has officially endorsed my unofficial CBC fan page as its own, it’s rather a moot point. Or perhaps it’s because I didn’t put a period after “corp” — even though most Canadians know the CBC’s nickname: “The Mother Corp.” But I can’t believe this ad is “abusive,” as Facebook claims.

More Arbitrary Facebook Ad Guidelines

Among the offenses that will get you banned permanently from placing ads on Facebook are:

  • Using a ‘&’ instead of the word ‘and’
  • Ending a sentence with an ellipse (‘…’)
  • Running an ad promoting a political point of view

The Solution

Facebook should take a lesson from Google, which at least tells you why your ad wasn’t approved and gives you an opportunity to fix it. If Facebook were to just email and say “You should use a ‘.’ after ‘corp’,” I’d be happy to fix it. I get my ads run; Facebook gets money. Problem solved.

Instead, people create a second profile with a fake name and run ads under that name instead, pointing to the same destination page as the original banned ad. In fact, considering these banning decisions are made by actual human beings, there’s a good chance that one could post the exact same ad under a different name and have it sail right through the approval process. One person’s “abusive” is another person’s “mild irritant.” We’ve already seen this in the approval process of Apple’s App Store.

Unfortunately for Facebook, I’ve given up trying to get this ban reversed. Instead, I’ve put that money into Google ads and other online promotional means.

  1. Todd, that's crazy! Makes me think that I won't be advertising on Facebook any time soon. I hope they fix that for you.

  2. Todd, that's crazy! Makes me think that I won't be advertising on Facebook any time soon. I hope they fix that for you.

  3. Actually, Google can be much worse. In the last several weeks, they've been summarily banning accounts of advertisers who've been using Adwords for years and spend hundreds of thousands of $/yr. No explanation, no opportunity for redress or even to find out why they were banned.

    They've admitted there's another huge wave of bans coming, but after presure have at least agreed to provide a reply email, although it doesn't appear there's any way to request a reconsideration of a ban.

    Given that Adwords accounts can build up significant Quality Score over the years which can greatly reduce advertising costs, this is both a massive penaly and (for the conspiraccy theorists) a great way for Google to force advertisers to start again from scratch at higher ad costs.

    Given their posotions in the marketplace, both Google and Facebook should be ashamed of their shoddy management of services on which many advertisers rely for their income.

    Paul

  4. Actually, Google can be much worse. In the last several weeks, they've been summarily banning accounts of advertisers who've been using Adwords for years and spend hundreds of thousands of $/yr. No explanation, no opportunity for redress or even to find out why they were banned.

    They've admitted there's another huge wave of bans coming, but after presure have at least agreed to provide a reply email, although it doesn't appear there's any way to request a reconsideration of a ban.

    Given that Adwords accounts can build up significant Quality Score over the years which can greatly reduce advertising costs, this is both a massive penaly and (for the conspiraccy theorists) a great way for Google to force advertisers to start again from scratch at higher ad costs.

    Given their posotions in the marketplace, both Google and Facebook should be ashamed of their shoddy management of services on which many advertisers rely for their income.

    Paul

  5. Sounds like an organization that has outgrown its abilities to manage growth. Or maybe they have deluded themselves and think they are Google! Never had a problem but then never got very good results either!

  6. Sounds like an organization that has outgrown its abilities to manage growth. Or maybe they have deluded themselves and think they are Google! Never had a problem but then never got very good results either!

  7. Am I mistaken but in the dark ages of the internet wasnt access to the WWW free?

  8. Am I mistaken but in the dark ages of the internet wasnt access to the WWW free?

  9. May be a while folks. I must be approved by the site admins before my message will appear publicly!

  10. May be a while folks. I must be approved by the site admins before my message will appear publicly!

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  1. Tod Maffin - Online Marketing: "Banned by Facebook -- An Exercise in Futility" http://ping.fm/Rev84
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  3. Greg Scott - Banned by Facebook: An Exercise in Futility - Some months ago, I logged in to my Facebook profile to throw …
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