Facebook Ads Account Disabled. Why is Facebook Disrespecting Small Businesses?
Every day thousands of small businesses are having their accounts shut down by mistake.
I am a member of several online entrepreneurial communities. It seems that every day someone posts about their Facebook advertising account being disabled. These are not shady dropshipping companies but normal legally registered brick-and-mortar small businesses.
Facebook has stringent rules and guidelines on what you can and cannot publish as ads. I absolutely agree that there needs to be strict control over who is posting ads and what is being advertised. We have all fallen for dodgy ads in the past, and many of us have lost money by ordering something that never arrived.
The problem is that Facebook never explains exactly why your account was disabled. They usually give you a vague reason in the form of a policy violation. Often accounts are disabled by the Facebook machine learning algorithm. No human is involved in the decision!
Businesses end up waiting days or weeks to get their advertising account re-instated. And Facebook does not seem to care if this mistake caused significant financial damage to their customer.
Re-instating the account is very difficult. There is no button to click to request a review. There is no contact phone for businesses to reach out to. If you are lucky, you may be given access to a Facebook concierge. But the Facebook concierge says polite things like sorry to hear about your troubles, and they will give you a link to submit your request.
Small businesses depend on Facebook traffic to keep the lights running
Facebook has created an amazing advertising machine that has been a godsend for small businesses. Thanks to Facebook Ads, small businesses have access to new markets and customers at an attractive cost. For many, Facebook is their number one source of traffic for new customers.
These businesses have ordered and paid for inventory based on their predicted sales. They have hired staff because of increased demands. Imagine if you are putting up a big promotion with a specific launch date. What happens if Facebook shuts you down brutally a few days before the launch? No warning, no heads up, no request to revise your ads.
I know someone with a friggin pet store. Let me repeat; the guy runs a pet store. He is not selling drugs or crypto or some fake diet cream. He sells dog food! He had spent tens of thousands of Euros on Facebook ads. And now Facebook has shut him down with no explanation (apart from a vague policy violation description).
Even if you are shut down by mistake, you’d expect a company like Facebook to have the proper customer support to fix any errors. But businesses need to often wait for days or even weeks to be re-instated. Well, there go the thousands you have spent on that promotion.
That Time I got shut down
I’ve had my Ads account disabled twice so far. The first time was because I had not enabled two-step authentication. Interestingly, up until that point, Facebook had not even told me to enable it. All of a sudden, one day, I was told your ads were not running, tough shit. I fixed it within hours, and Facebook reinstated my account. But you’d think proper business etiquette to someone who has spent thousands on your company to be: Hey, please sort this out within the next 14 days, or we will need to disable your account.
The second time my account got shut down was when I tried to add a different credit card to my account. This was right when the new 2021 EU regulations for payment verifications came into place. My bank got cold feet and blocked the transaction from Facebook.
So Facebook decided to shut down my account because they noticed “unusual activity.” I was not even able to add a different payment method to correct the problem. I tried filling in requests on various contact forms that I found on Facebook’s website, only to get a bot responding every time. It took six days to get my account reinstated.
Is Facebook’s behavior deliberate?
Facebook came under heavy criticism after the Cambridge Analytica scandal and US Election fiasco in 2016. It had become blatantly apparent that random people were spending millions on US election spending with no background checks. So Facebook adopted aggressive machine learning to shut down anyone not complying with campaign regulations quickly.
Some people are assuming this blatant disregard for advertisers is Facebook’s way of getting businesses to comply. Instead of micromanaging every customer that violates the policies, use machine learning to shut them down and scare them. We can always re-activate the honest ones later.
But I am wondering if, in the future, regulators like the FCC and the European Commission will take up this practice with Facebook. A business can seek damages if the electricity goes out. Could the day arrive where we seek damages from Facebook for lost sales?
I really hope that Facebook sorts out its customer service issue. They have reps calling me all the time and giving me advice all the time on how to improve my ad performance. I greatly respect this service. But when your account gets shut down, these people are not even reachable.
Right now, Facebook’s attitude is flat-out arrogant and disrespectful. They have all the leverage since they own the platform and hundreds of thousands of businesses need it. But this behavior could come back to bite them. History is full of examples of large companies becoming complacent and treating their customers like crap, and then getting slaughtered.