A small sporting goods store in Pennsylvania is accusing Facebook of showing "tremendous bias" after a recent ad it posted to the social media site, one for American flags, was taken down and their advertising abilities stripped altogether.
The Sportsman’s Shop, located in East Earl, told the Daily Caller that Facebook recently deleted an advertisement promoting an American flag sale at their store. At first, they were perplexed. Then they discovered Facebook had completely disabled the company's marketing abilities.
The company contacted Facebook representatives, and after several unsuccessful attempts, were finally told their ads violated Facebook's ad policies. Jessica Keffer, the company's marketing director, told the Daily Caller this made her very frustrated. After all, as a small business competing with the likes of Cabelas and Dick's Sporting Goods, Keffer's store needs Facebook's reach to help bring in new customers.
But how did the American flag ad violate the ad policies?
According to Facebook's official ad policies, ads that promote the sale of "weapons, ammunition, or explosives" are prohibited. The policy states that ads like "blogs or groups connecting people with weapon-related interests, as long as the service doesn't lead to the sale of these products" are OK, but ads that promote the sale of firearms, ammunition or explosives are not.
But Keffer said that Facebook representatives said the policy doesn't extend to just submitted ads, but also to a company's Facebook page. And because the Sportsman's Shop's Facebook page has a link to its website — which promotes the sale of firearms and ammunition — it violated Facebook's ad policy and forfeited its right to market on the platform.
Facebook representatives confirmed this to the Daily Caller:
Facebook told TheDCNF that it evaluates the Facebook page in question, as well as where that page can lead to with any embedded links. Due to the fact that The Sportsman’s Shop’s Facebook page — as well as its hyperlinked website embedded into that page — is filled with content promoting the sales of guns and showing in-house firearm training, the store could no longer advertise altogether.
What did Keffer say about the decision?
We are very frustrated with Facebook’s ad policies. Like any business, we want to grow our reach and attract new customers and when you are restricted from promoting your product on a very visible platform it is a huge disservice. Advertising is crucial to any business. Reaching new customers and attracting new clients is imperative to our success.
We are just the little guy. At the end of the day, we are simply trying to promote our product and our industry and our lawful and ethical business is under a microscope because of Facebook’s political and cultural bias.
When asked if she thought it would be a good idea to get her company's website and Facebook page in compliance with Facebook's rules in order to advertise, Keffer simply said, "No."
But what's most disappointing about Facebook's decision, Keffer said, is that the Sportsman's Shop is dedicated to not only selling firearms, but promoting proper firearm usage and safety. Still, she believes the Sportsman's Shop is being singled out.
"To restrict a business who is both operating legally and ethically just shows the tremendous bias," she explained.