So You Can’t Advertise to Bisexual or Polyamorous People on Facebook

The bisexual pride flag - Wikipedia

A few days ago our advertising account with Facebook was “flagged for policy violations.” Meaning  “any adverts that [Bristlr are] running have been turned off.” Fair enough, these things happen and it’s not a big deal.

It was probably because in one ad we quote CNBC calling us the “Tinder for Beards”. Or perhaps it was because Facebook require prior permission before running dating ads, but as they don’t provide any way to contact them, we didn’t seek it. Either way I expect it to be sorted out shortly, and that’s not the point of this blog post.

The point of this blog post is to highlight the policies themselves, and some weirdness I found in them after having a closer read.

They have a section in their policies specifically for dating. And it’s all reasonable stuff; no nudity, don’t con people, don’t advertise to kids, no selling of mail-order brides etc.

But, they also have these policy points when it comes to who your ads can target:

  • The “Sex” targeting parameter must be set to either “Men” or “Women”.
  • The “Interested In” targeting parameter must be set to “Men”, “Women” or “Unspecified”. Combinations of “Men” and “Unspecified” and “Women” and “Unspecified” are also acceptable.

And these points are weird.

Your adverts have to be aimed at a specific sex (even though Facebook don’t actually track sex, and are mixing up the term “sex” with “gender” which… I don’t have time for that, read this). And those pigeon-holed people can’t be interested in dating both men and women; they have to be either straight, gay, or unspecified.

If you’re running, for example, a genderless dating site for people into beards, to use Facebook you have to break your demographic down into their “sex”, and then again into whether they’re straight or gay, or other.

As a better example which isn’t about us; if you’re running a dating site for bisexual, queer or just undecided people, you have to duplicate your ads to reach to two groups of arbitrarily grouped people.

Then we find this lovely line of the policy:

  • The “Relationship” targeting parameter must be set to “Single” or “Unspecified”.

As if open relationships and polyamory don’t exist, even though Facebook themselves provide an option to say you’re in “an open relationship”?

In taking broad strokes to prevent nefarious companies using the Facebook advertising platform, they’ve made it difficult for those not in the mainstream to reach people, and that sucks.

No, it’s not the biggest deal in the whole world, and Facebook are hardly alone in their actions, but it shows we still have a way to go.

To any developers out there remember: code is political.