Yes, you read that right. The image of Adam, from the Sistine Chapel ceiling, you know, the one from the Vatican, this one, is apparently a problem for Facebook. I kid you not. Even though, that image does not, in fact, appear anywhere in the ad. But, we’ll get to that.
First, let me give you the full background, because then you will appreciate it even more, especially since that is not and cannot be the real reason.
A few weeks ago, I started promoting some of the posts from our Facebook Page Ateisti Srbije. Each promotion is quite small, less than $10 and only for a week, not longer. This brings us to the attention of many idiots who then come to threaten us with hell and murder, like cutting our throats, shooting us in the head or cutting that head of, or both… or using our head for batting practice. You know, the FUN stuff…
Anyway, all our ads lead to this website, and this is very important. And all were quickly approved, and than stayed approved, except this one: “Irinej je došao u Vojsku Srbije, šta se nakon toga desilo će Vas ZAPANJITI…“. As you can see, the image in the ad is this one:
The photoshoped head is of the Serbian Patriarch, the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The article talks about the need for the separation of church and state and criticizes the fact that someone donated bibles to the military and also criticizes the Minister of Defence, Mr. Gašić, for saying on national TV that “Faith is what connects us”. The ad was approved, only to be rejected several days later with an explanation that: “ads cannot be advertising adult products or services, including toys, videos or sexual enhancement products“.
So, I asked Facebook on Sept. 1st 2015, why the ad was dissaproved:
Our ad does not promote the sale or use of adult products or services, including toys, videos, publications, live shows or sexual enhancement products.
Our ad is simply promoting an article which criticizes the dangerous practice of bringing church and state in Serbia into one entity.
This particular article criticizes the distribution of Ortodox bible within the military.
The Balkan wars happened because the Serbian god was not the same as the Croation god, which are not the same as Bosnian god. Pushing religion onto the soldiers is the path to a new Balkan war.
We are criticizing this dangerous move and you already approved our ad a few days ago and are now rejecting its extension because, I only assume, the religious fanatics have been reporting it.
You people really need to stop relying on numbers and actually pay attention to the content. There are far more idiots in this world than normal people. Kepp that sad fact in mind, please.
As you can see, I kinda lost it there in the last paragraph…
Facebook replied on Sept. 2nd:
Your ad was rejected because it doesn’t follow our advertising guidelines. Ads may not show nudity (please see your website) or promote the sale or use of adult products or services (ex: sexual enhancement products, seduction techniques, adult clubs and shows).
Learn more about acceptable adult products for advertising:
This decision is final and we may not respond to additional inquiries about this ad.
Thanks for your understanding,
Facebook Ads Team
Now, to be fair, I did not, at the time, notice the “please see your website” comment. But, then again, all other ads were approved, and they all lead to the same website, so it is an understandable oversight. So, I wrote back on Sept. 3rd 2015:
Our ad is not advertising adult products or services, including toys, videos or sexual enhancement products. Please tell me what exactly is wrong with this ad so that I can avoid making the same mistake in the future.
I do not see what the problem with this ad is? It is, again, promoting an article about the separation of church and state. Please tell me exactly what the problem with this ad is because I do not get it?
Then Facebook responded 3 weeks later, on Sept. 22nd 2015:
Thanks for writing in. I’m here to help.
Your ad was rejected because the image doesn’t follow our ad policies. Ads may not use overly sexual images, suggest nudity, show a lot of skin or cleavage, or focus unnecessarily on specific body parts. This is also applicable to the images present on your Pages.
Please make the necessary edits and recreate your posts. If it’s an ad created from the create flow, you can edit it in your ads manager:
Review our policies on ad images here:
Let me know if you need more help from my end. Have a great day.
Facebook Ads Team
By now, I am starting to lose my patience, so I responded right away:
The image does not, in fact, show ANY of those things. The ad was *approved* by your team first, then subsequently rejected.
You guys keep avoiding the answer and I really do not understand why? The ad did not, in fact, violate ANY of your policies, I made sure of that.
Our ad was criticizing the merging of church and state in a very unconstitutional way. Therefore, the more reasonable cause for your subsequent rejection, after you already approved it, is the complaints from brainwashed users who do not want to see their religion criticized.
But, then just say so, and I will know not to try to post unpopular ads, no matter how compliant they are with your policies. Or, better yet, just add a policy that says ads must be accepted by the popular vote, regardless of the content.
And again on the same day:
Here is the image in question, please tell me where do you see anything sexual, or suggestive of nudity, or skin, or cleavage, or focus on any specific body part?
I am simply trying to understand the issue, in order to avoid it in the future.
And finally, today, on Oct. 2nd 2015, Facebook responded with their reasoning:
I’ve attached a snapshot of your violating ad component with the hope that you can change it to comply with Facebook policy, so it will be back and running as soon as possible!
Again, I kid you not.
Here is my immediate response, for transparency:
WAIT? You are saying the the Sistine Chapel ceiling is the problem??? 😀
You must, you simply MUST be kidding me? 😀
Please tell me this is a very late April fools day joke? Please?
Otherwise it is simply priceless 😀
Here, a little education on the matter: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sistine_Chapel
Now, my feelings on the matter are conflicted at this point, I have to say. On the one hand, “Are you kidding me Facebook???“, while on the other, “Good for you for rejecting something from the Vatican“… I guess…
Jokes aside, the problem here is rather clear to me: too many butthurt Christians from Serbia whined to Facebook about the ads image being inappropriate, because they do not like it when other people are free to say what they want. The freedom of speech is an attack on their fairytale and they want to silence anyone who criticizes it. They do not like humor, they do not like sarcasm and they do not like facts.
And Facebook gave into it, and then struggled to find a reason to support the decision to silence free and perfectly legal speech.
By the way, notice the image on our Facebook Page Ateisti Srbije, is the same one:
Isn’t it funny how, many ads before and after were valid and remained approved, even though they lead to the same website with the same image, and how that said same image is the Facebook page profile photo as well, for all that time and none of that was cause for rejection by Facebook, but then this one ad which makes fun of the Serbian Patriarch is?
p.s. I am writing this in English because the entire communication with Facebook was in English.