Facebook recently took down a number of libertarian children’s books in error while the author was running ads to promote them. Facebook’s mistake resulted in ad viewers being directed to inactive product pages but despite owning up to the error, Facebook is refusing to issue a refund on the ad campaign.
The books were created by Little Libertarians – a company that produces books for children aged zero through to six, with the stories focusing on the principles that underlie libertarianism such as the golden rule (treating others as you wish to be treated) and non-aggression.
The company recently set up a Facebook Store to sell its products. It started running Facebook ads to the products in this store on Friday, May 3 which included ads for a book titled “Don’t Hurt People and Don’t Take Their Toys.”
Dorit Goikhman, the author of Little Libertarians, said the ads were initially taken down for supposedly containing content “related to politics or an issue of national importance” on May 5 – a type of ad content that Facebook claims the Little Libertarians Facebook page is not authorized to run.
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However, Facebook’s rules in this area don’t list political philosophies such as libertarianism as something that it would deem to be “related to politics or an issue of national importance” which means the ad takedown was a mistake on Facebook’s part. Additionally, Goikhman says that the Little Libertarians Facebook page is authorized to run political ads.
Here’s the email Facebook sent to Goikhman informing her that the ads had been removed:
After receiving this initial message, Goikhman says that her ads fluctuated between being approved and rejected. Then on May 6, after reviewing the ads again, Facebook realized they had been mistakenly taken down and approved them.
Here are the emails Facebook sent to Goikhman after reviewing the ads again and approving them:
A couple of hours after approving the ads, Facebook then took down two of the main products in the Little Libertarians Facebook Store, including the book “Don’t Hurt People and Don’t Take Their Toys.” This time Facebook claimed that the products were being taken down for selling “adult items or services.” Since the products are aimed at teaching libertarian principles to young children and both the ad images and ad copy reflect this, the takedown was another error on Facebook’s part.
Here’s the message Facebook sent to Goikhman after the “Don’t Hurt People and Don’t Take Their Toys” book was taken down:
Goikhman was able to successfully appeal the takedown of these products and get them restored. However, Facebook hasn’t explained why the ads or products were taken down and refuses to issue a refund for the ads that directed people to non-functional product pages.
Here’s the Facebook message Goikhman sent to Facebook requesting a refund:
And here’s Facebook’s response to Goikhman saying that her refund request has been rejected:
In a statement, Goikhman said:
“We put in endless hours just to get these ads running, and right after launch our main product was pulled. Still, they refuse to refund the money for the ad campaign which ran while the products were pulled. This is fraudulent.
While they are not overtly banning my products, Facebook’s behavior is effectively achieving the same result. I don’t believe in regulation of social media companies, but I do believe it’s illegal for an advertiser to take your money for advertising a banned product. Once my product was improperly removed, the ads should have been shut off.”