Facebook rejected an ad this week that disputed scientifically unsound claims that abortion can cause higher instances of breast cancer, arguing that the advertisement violated the company’s guidelines “by advertising adult products or services, including toys, videos, or sexual enhancement products.” The news comes as a coalition of sexual violence prevention and women’s equality organizations are pressuring Facebook to take a stronger stance in favor of women’s health and crackdown against messages that “trivialize or glorify” violence against women.
“I’m a big supporter of that campaign,” Michelle Kinsey Bruns, the online manager of Women’s Media Center and the creator of the ad, told ThinkProgress in a telephone interview on Saturday morning. The ad linked to a page on the National Cancer Institute website reassuring women that “having an abortion or miscarriage does not increase a woman’s subsequent risk of developing breast cancer.”
The rejected ad via Kinsey Bruns’ Twitter handle @ClinicEscort:
Kinsey Bruns said she expected Facebook to disapprove of the ad, but submitted it anyway to highlight what she described as “the absolute inconsistency that Facebook is willing to apply to a woman’s body as an object of violence, but a woman’s body as a medical object is too scandalous to be approved.”
Indeed, the company has come under criticism for removing images of “mastectomies, breastfeeding mothers, and other non-sexualized depictions of women’s bodies” and labeling them as “pornographic,” while allowing photographs and forums that make light of abusing and raping women. That content often falls under the “humor” section of Facebook’s content guidelines. Activists are encouraging companies that advertise with Facebook to boycott the company until they can be assured their ads will not appear next to content that promotes sexual violence and abuse.
Kinsey Bruns submitted a similar breast cancer ad last year, with an illustration of a woman touching her breast, but it too was rejected. She says she plans to experiment more with the company’s guidelines, posting ads with celebrities like Nicki Minaj in outrageous clothing or showing “sideboob” to test the boundaries and inconsistencies of the media giant’s standards.
Facebook’s Advertising Guidelines state, “Ads may not promote the sale or use of adult products or services, including but not limited to toys, videos, publications, live shows, or sexual enhancement products. Ads for family planning and contraception are allowed provided they follow the appropriate targeting requirements.”