I’m not sure what it takes to get banned from FaceBook. I guess you have to do something so heinous that it has not only no redeeming social value, but you should not be able to show your face either in civilized company or on any street in New York. I mean, it should be in the same category as someone who kidnaps girls out of madrassas in Afghanistan and sells them into prostitution. O.K. I did not do that. And neither was I actually physically banned from a site that now captures the imaginations, time, and for many the advertising attention of edging onto a 100 mil people. That means that FaceBook now is an unofficial country, much larger than, say, Vatican City, with an amount of wealth that would make the Vatican pink with envy.
No, I did not get banned. My book did. Like a lot of authors, I got taken in with the idea that in order to sell my book to the multitudes, I needed a FaceBook ad. I had been flogging the hell out of the book on my FaceBook page to whomever would give me an inkling of attention (and let’s face it, any author’s friends, among whom are many other authors, get tired of being the same old meat to that writer’s works).
I needed an ad. So I clicked the little button that runs you through “creating your ad.” It was simple. My book is a how-to book. It is about mastering an art form. It could be the art of sculpture, or French cooking (pace Julia), Baroque dance, or flirting. O.K. It’s actually closer to the last one. The book is called The Manly Art of Seduction, How to Meet, Speak to, and Become Intimate with Anyone. The book is aimed squarely at gay men (you could pretty much tell that from the cover), and it has absolutely nothing to do with seducing 13-year-old virgins of any gender (sorry, Mr. Polanski), or imposing yourself in a male-chauvinist way on anyway. The main reason for my writing it is that in this age of Cubicle Hell and Digital Isolation, too many queer men have become just as klutzy as anyone when it comes down to going up to, meeting, and scoring with other men. They are wracked with feelings of rejection, even before they leave their apartments. I wanted to change this, and came up with a wonderful program to do this: I know, it has made me psychologically secure, socially popular, and sexually happy as a pig in doody most of my life. Since you are only allowed a paltry 100 character in your ad, I had to get in their “the fustest with the mostest” as Stonewall Jackson advised. So my ad had the book cover and these few words:
Frustrated, scared of rejection, a complete guide to emotional and sexual satisfaction with men.
The ad then came with a link to the Amazon page for ordering the book. Since on FaceBook ad rates are based on the size of your potential audience (and they are steeeep, let me tell you), I narrowed down my audience to single gay men: a merely 13,000 souls I was told. Therefore, the ad would appear on pages that other single gay men would see, and not on pages frequented by Christian households, etc. I released my copy up to the FaceBook gods, and a few hours later, got a message from them saying:
“Hi Perry Brass,
Thanks for purchasing a Facebook Ad! Below is the confirmation for the ad that you have created. You will be charged only for the impressions or clicks your ad receives and this amount will never exceed your daily budget. We will email a receipt for each charge from your Facebook Ads account to this email address.”
This message was signed: The FaceBook ad team. I came to learn that at all points I would be interacting with the FaceBook Ad team, never with a real person who can be reached one-on-one. But I had the potential of reaching 13,000 randy, ready, single gay men, so what the hey (!) as they say.
Blissfully, my ad ran. I was given a link to spot every page view and click, and the clicks did happen. I was getting a lot of clicks and hundreds of page views. I was happy. The book was not selling through the rafters on Amazon, but then we have a recession going on.
Everything was hunky-doory for a week, when suddenly I got an email from my friends at the FaceBook Team telling me that:
“The content advertised by this ad is restricted. Per section 5 of Facebook’s Advertising Guidelines, this content is prohibited from being advertised on Facebook. We reserve the right to determine what advertising we accept, and will not allow the creation of any further Facebook Ads for this product. Ads for this product, service or site should not be resubmitted. We appreciate your cooperation with this policy.”
In other words, the famous FaceBook team, looking over hundreds of thousands of FaceBook ads decided that my ad, for The Manly Art of Seduction, was not in keeping with FaceBook’s good name in this world. My product, a book, would be banned from FaceBook ads, even though it defamed no one (FaceBook has a ban on any product that calls for racial, ethnic, gender, or sexual orientation hatred of any kind), sold no service, and did not direct anyone to any kind of questionable site other than Amazon.com.
I was furious, of course, as any author or reader can imagine, and having obtained the name and email address of a real person at FaceBook, who answered me once in the name of the famous Team regarding a billing question, I fired off an email to “Betty.”
Can you please explain to me why the ‘FaceBook team’ has decided that after 58,000 impressions and over a hundred clicks, charging me $68, my book will henceforth be banned from ever being advertised on FaceBook? I think that banning books is a very serious charge, and would like to know why FaceBook has suddenly decided that this book is offensive? The book is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and probably hundreds of bookstores. So what is it about this book that FaceBook finds offense enough to ban it from ever being advertised on ‘our site’?”
I’m sure “Betty” felt this was a quagmire she was not going to get her kindly butt into, so she turned the question over to “Molly.”
Thanks for writing in to us. This issue has been escalated, and after reviewing further, the product was determined to be unacceptable to run on our site. We do not allow ads for products with a sexual emphasis, including seduction, sexual health, etc. Please note that we reserve the right to choose which advertisements we’ll accept, and we will not allow the further creation of ads for this product. Users have demonstrated that they are very sensitive about these types of ads on our site, and we are taking these concerns very seriously.
Thanks for your cooperation with this decision.
Thanks for contacting Facebook,
Online Sales Operations
I was, as ever, amazed at the chirpiness of this response from dear ol’ Molly. I was also amazed at how many other truly questionable ads I found on FaceBook—ads for a site for foot fetishists, for a site for definitely X-rated “massage therapists,” and for numerous dating and plain old escort services. One of my friends warned me, though, not to call attention to these ads, because the poor schnooks who took them out and were paying for them, would be bounced off, too, and didn’t they have a right to pay dollars for FaceBook’s millions of eyeballs, just as I had wanted to?
I also learned that FaceBook has a truly hypocritical attitude toward gay content; they will censor any ad they feel is “too gay,” and once told The Advocate, a national gay magazine, that they could not use a picture of Matthew Mitcham, an “out” gay Australian diver who was a star at the Beijing Olympics, in a Speedo. In other words, an image that a couple of billion people had seen, this diver in a skimpy bathing suit, was not right for an ad for The Advocate. The Advocate, which is now owned by a gay media conglomerate, caved in, feeling they could just as easily switch the cover image to one of a straight celebrity in more than a Speedo. They did, and the FaceBook Team was happy. So my question is, do these more “blue” ads just get past the FaceBook Team’s eyes? Or, did some bluenosy fundamentalist, while on the lookout for trouble, alert the Team to the vileness of my book?
(In regard to FaceBook’s hypocritical and homophobic stance on “gay” material, I can also attest that numerous other gay men have had similar experiences, to the point that even images of shirtless men have been deleted from some FaceBook pages. This goes on while the same kind of image can appear happily on other pages.)
It’s all hard to say. But it does make me wonder now that we are entering that phase when Social Networking sites are becoming the gatekeepers of a lot of our culture, one way or another, what other things will be banned from promotion on FaceBook, etc.?
As an aside, I Googled movie titles with the word “Seduction” in them: They are numerous, and some of them are tied to classic movies such as “The Seduction of Joe Tynan” with Barbara Harris and Meryl Streep. Sorry, Meryl, your movie can never be advertised on FaceBook. Also, I did an Amazon search of books with the same word in the title: I stopped counting after sixty titles. I would gather that none of these books can be advertised on FaceBook either. Sorry, you poor authors, you toilers of the pen and the DVD screen: clean up your acts! The Seduction Police are here.
You can also read more about FaceBook censoring The Manly Art of Seduction, How to Meet, Talk to, and Become Intimate with Anyone in this article in Out in Jersey:
For more information about the upcoming workshop based on the Manly Art of Seduction, Jan 20, 2o10, please visit