Facebook & Instagram Rejecting POC Ads for Discrimination

I’ve noticed a new and unfortunate trend on a couple of social media platforms. Specifically, Facebook and Instagram. Recently, Facebook’s ad center has started rejecting my ad sets for featuring a POC (person of color) in the graphic. At first, my team and I thought this had to be a mistake. Was the automatic scanner picking up on a discrimination statement or some keywords? I tried removing all possible trigger verbiage and revamped the ads to be image-heavy. But, it still kept happening.

Next, I abandon the ad center and attempted to manually boost the ad directly from the Facebook page. Immediately it was rejected. At this point, I thought, “am I going to have to redesign these ads completely and feature a white person?”  I nearly gave up and began relaying the bad news to the team. They declined the offer to redesign the ad and chose to keep resubmitting.

That night, I  duplicated the ad set in the ad center and resubmitted it for the fourth time. I requested a secondary review and went to bed. The next morning, to my surprise, it was approved!

This had to be a fluke right?

A few days later I had to create a similar ad set with another POC. It happened again!  Now I’m convinced that the ad center is definitely marking a person’s skin color as a red flag. Concerning.

I’m actively fighting with the ad center to get the current ad set approved. I will update this post if I figure out a solution other than resubmitting until I wear out the reviewer. If you have been experiencing this and/or have a workaround, let me know! Hoping this gets fixed soon.


Update: Saturday, November 14, 2020

My second add set had been sitting in limbo for about a week. I requested a formal review of the ads but never received an update. Finally, I searched for a way to issue a formal complaint with facebook. In the ad center, there was a hidden method for doing so.

My complaint basically called out Facebook for automatically rejecting ads based on the color of a person’s skin in the ad photo. I never received a response, but my ads were magically approved in less than 24 hours. Hopefully, they are aware of this issue, but I’ll be updating this post as I attempt to turn more ads loose.

Again, if you’ve experienced this or have a work-around, please share in the comments!

Nick Winters

Nick performs web marketing and design for Wenatchee Valley College. In his spare time, he takes on freelance projects and fun creative opportunities via Pixel to Press.

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