Unacceptable Business Practices

In today’s adventures: Facebook Advertisements!

I will take a moment to preface this with: I’m going to be sensitive to the fact that I work at a major tech company, and present just the facts of my experience without judgment.  We are all humans writing code in a complex business environment.  I have plenty of opinions, and I’ll try to keep them to myself.  Any opinions that leak through are entirely my own and not my employer’s.

I spent several hours yesterday preparing graphics for advertisements.  I’m working on setting up advertisements on Facebook/Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and some more young adult targeted book streams.

Let’s start with the graphics I created…  I have 2 audiences: adults who care about diversity in tech and might be interested in my EvilPlanToSaveTheWorld initiative, and young readers who might like to read Raven.  So I prepared two separate targeted ads.

I set up two Facebook ad campaigns around these.  The first was aimed at adults in the US who work in the tech industry and care about things like diversity and various forms of equality, linking to my explanation of the EvilPlan.  The second campaign was aimed at 13-25 yo readers in the US/Canada/UK/Australia, linking to the Amazon purchase pages for those markets.  I even went back and made a non-US version of the second ad with the word “centre” in it.  Then I submitted the campaigns and went to bed.

Through the day today, the second ad became live in the 4 targeted countries.

But I woke up this morning to find that the first ad had been flagged.

So immediately this threw me into questions…  Did I have the bad luck to run into someone who thinks “diversity” is a bad word?  Is it the content on my linked web site they object to, or the content of the ad?  I made no misleading claims in the ad, and while I believe everything on my site, it’s not like I extensively quoted sources for statements I made there.  If I’d have to wade into defense of my site, that’d be painful.

That was all on my phone – going to the Facebook ad manager wasn’t much more illuminating, but it told me slightly more.  Apparently it was flagged for “Unacceptable Business Practices.”


There is no detail about what in my ad constitutes Unacceptable Business Practices, so all I had to ponder over was this.


Still unclear what I could have done that’s misleading to people.  I decided maybe it was a mistake – some bad machine learning algorithm or a human quick on the mouse click.  So I asked for a review.  This is a process of clicking a button – no way to ask for details about the policy or about what in my ad violated the policy.  (Also, in the top right it says I violated policies 6 times in the last 6 months?!  This is my first ad in over 2 years…)


Well, after waiting the rest of the day, that came back rejected again, with no further information.  (Also: I have not gotten any emails explaining what happened either)

I might be able to guess what was objectionable and clean it up.  I have two ideas so far – maybe they objected to me talking about “young” readers (guessing physical attributes of the viewer?) or they somehow thought my text saying “http://EvilPlanToSaveThe.World” was not the URL the link was going to, even though it is.  Maybe the “.world” domain was not recognized?

But if I guess wrong, I’ll get blocked.  They don’t say how many chances you get, but they clearly say they’ll ban you from running ads if you have too many strikes against you.  So now I’m in a bit of a pickle.  I can try guessing how to fix my ad, and risk getting banned.  Or I can give up on this Facebook ad campaign.  At least I am able to reach Instagram with my Raven-focused ad.

I finally got my courage up and went to edit the ad.  There – in the edit experience, I was finally given a bit more insight.


There are two fields for adding URLs – one with the target URL, and one with the display text for the link.  I had set both, but the target URL was all lowercase while the display text was a mix of upper and lower.  Maybe that was it?

I also decided to change “Give a copy to the young reader in your life” to “Give a copy to a young reader you care about” to sound less like I know the audience has kids (BTW, I did *not* target people with kids).

16by9 EvilPlan Ad - no URL

I’ve resubmitted…  Wish me luck!  Hope I don’t get banned!  😑


UPDATE: my resubmit went through.  Whew!

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