LifeSite tried to boost this pro-life heroine’s story online. But Facebook banned it
Monday, December 4, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Facebook has refused an advertisement request by LifeSiteNews for a story it published on Canadian pro-life activist Mary Wagner. The refusal was related to a court-provided image, unedited by LifeSite that was used to promote the story. Facebook claimed the ad violated Facebook Advertising Policies but refused to specify exactly how it violated their policies.
In December 2016, Wagner entered the Bloor West Village Women’s Clinic in Toronto to persuade pregnant women to choose life. She was forcibly removed from the abortion center by the abortion ‘doctor’ and an employee. The act was caught on the clinic’s security camera. Wagner was charged with and eventually convicted of breach of probation and mischief.
During Wagner’s trial, a Canadian judge disallowed not only the names of the facility’s staff from being released to the public but the security camera video as well. LifeSiteNews challenged that ruling and on November 2nd won the right to publish a court-edited version of the video that hides the identities of the abortion center staff.
On Friday, November 3, LifeSiteNews published a story titled “EXCLUSIVE: Video shows ‘doctor’ dragging pro-life activist out of abortion center.”
The report included the video recorded by the security camera. It also used a screenshot from the video as its header image. That image, with the employee’s face edited out by the court, is below.
On Friday, November 3, the marketing team at LifeSiteNews shared the Wagner story to Facebook. The marketing team then submitted a request for $100 dollars for Facebook to ‘boost’ or promote the story.
Soon after the request was made, LifeSiteNews received a message from Facebook informing them that the post would not be promoted because the ad violated Facebook Advertising Policies.
The message Facebook sent LifeSiteNews read as follows:
Your ad wasn't approved because it doesn't follow our Advertising Policies. Ad images must fully and honestly represent the subject being advertised. An image that uses cropping or inappropriately placed arrows to entice users to click is against our policy.
How to fix: We recommend using a different image that fully represents the subject being promoted.
If you think your ad follows our Advertising Policies, you can appeal this disapproval.
After a careful study of Facebook Advertising Policies, LifeSiteNews appealed the decision, writing to Facebook:
We feel the image used for the story accurately reflects not only the subject of the story but, seeing how it is an actual image of the person the story is about, it is obvious that it fully represents the subject being promoted. In no way is it misleading, deceptive, or unrelated to the story itself.
Facebook responded with an email to LifeSiteNews later in the day on November 3, stating:
What’s wrong with my ad?
It looks like the image being used in your ad is against Facebook's Advertising Policies.
Why doesn't Facebook allow this?
The content advertised by this ad is prohibited. We reserve the right to determine what advertising we accept, and we may choose not to accept ads containing or relating to certain products or services. We won't allow the creation of any further Facebook ads for this product.
How to fix?
Try editing your ad by following the policy guidelines mentioned above through Ads Manager here. You can also check out Facebook Blueprint, which allows you to go through our self-paced e-learning module on Facebook's Advertising Policies.
Seeing how Facebook’s response simultaneously states that “the image” is “against” their policies and that “the content advertised” in the ad is “prohibited,” LifeSiteNews decided to ask for clarification as to what the specific offense actually was -- the image, the content, the headline, something else?
Utilizing Facebook’s “Report a Problem” messaging system, LifeSiteNews wrote, on Monday, November 6, the following to the company:
On Friday, November 3rd, LifeSiteNews attempted to boost a story about a facility that provides abortion services. Our ad was denied. We were told that the ad did not pass Facebook guidelines. We appealed this decision. Our appeal was met with a response indicating yet again the ad was not appropriate and that it violated Facebook's standards. But we are left unsure as to what specifically was inappropriate about the ad and what exact guidelines were violated. Our appeal number is #10100106172187661. Can you please clarify to us what exactly is inadmissible about this ad and what specific part of the Facebook standards it violates? Thank you
Facebook did not respond to this request.
LifeSiteNews decided to reach out to the Facebook Advertising department by calling (800) 741-7060 on the morning of Wednesday, November 8, to see if a further explanation could be given.
No one answered LifeSiteNews’ call. A voicemail was left asking why the promotion was refused. LifeSiteNews did not receive a callback.
Another call was placed to Facebook’s Advertising department on Monday, November 13. This call was not answered. LifeSiteNews left another voicemail message seeking clarification. LifeSiteNews did not receive a callback.
LifeSiteNews proceeded to submit another advertisement for the story, thinking that perhaps the promotion was refused by an employee relying on an overzealous interpretation of Facebook’s policies. The second request for a promotion of the story costing $100 was completed on Wednesday, November 15.
Soon after the request was made, LifeSiteNews received a message from Facebook informing them the advertisement would not be allowed. The message was identical to the message LifeSiteNews received the first time the promotion was refused.
LifeSiteNews immediately appealed this denial, writing to Facebook:
LifeSite News is appealing this decision because it does not know which part of Facebook's guidelines this ad violates. The image itself is neither deceitful, misleading or unrelated to the story. Can you please cite the specific section of Facebook's advertising policy that this ad violates? Is the image itself what violates a particular part of Facebook's policy or is it something else, like the headline, that is causing it to not be able to be promoted?
LifeSiteNews has not received a response regarding its second appeal for the promotion of the report. Nor has it received a phone call from the Facebook Advertising department explaining which specific part of Facebook’s Advertising Policies the advertisement violates.
Facebook’s decision to reject LifeSiteNews’ request seems to be part of a much larger trend that has emerged in the tech industry over the past several years directly targeting pro-life, pro-family organizations.
Google, for instance, recently fired an employee who pointed out men are different than women. Apple removed a pro-life prayer app from its App Store after pro-abortionists complained about it. Apple also donated $1 million to the hateful, anti-conservative Southern Poverty Law Center.
YouTube has de-monetized thousands of videos made by prominent social conservatives. Twitter censored an ad exposing Planned Parenthood that was produced by pro-life Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn. Twitter said the ad was “inflammatory” and “negative.” Facebook also recently blocked a Michigan Right to Life affiliate’s advertisement.
Countless other examples of these corporations targeting pro-life, pro-family values can be found by searching the archives of LifeSiteNews.com.
The current chair of the United States Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, has taken notice of social media’s attacks on conservatives.
In a recent speech delivered at a symposium in Washington D.C., Pai, an advocate of rolling back Obama-era “net neutrality” rules, said “when it comes to an open Internet, Twitter is part of the problem.”
“The company has a viewpoint,” he added, “and uses that viewpoint to discriminate.” Pai drew attention to Twitter’s blocking of Congresswoman Blackburn’s Planned Parenthood ad as an example.