Facebook & Google Block Period Language, OK Video of Man Shooting Himself in the Face

Can you guess which form of content is blocked by Facebook and Google?

  1. Live stream of police murders
  2. A video of man shooting himself in the face
  3. Video footage of people being killed at war (aka war porn)
  4. Ads for a menstrual hygiene product

The answer: ads for a menstrual hygiene product

Why? Our country’s appetite for (or acceptance of) video footage portraying explicit violence is greater than our willingness to openly discuss women’s health.

Is this a Silicon Valley problem? Or are Facebook and Google’s content policies simply a reflection of of our values as a society?

America’s Appetite for Violent Video

This morning my co-founder tagged me in a post from the news website NowThis: a video of a man shooting himself in the face, swallowing the bullet, opening his mouth and allowing blood to gush out. (I won’t bother to link to it from this article because I do not believe in the promotion of explicit, violent content).

This video comes on the heels of news that Facebook disabled an Australian woman’s account for posting a status about her period.

So what gives? Why are VIDEO portrayals of people dying, being murdered, or causing severe bodily harm with firearms are posted and shared on Facebook millions of times, yet sponsored content with WRITTEN WORDS related to a woman’s period are not?

This is a cultural issue. Our society tells us that period blood is disgusting, and a rapper shooting himself in the face is interesting. Just take a look at the number of shares in the image of the NowThis video.

How Facebook and Google Define “Adult”

Facebook and Google advertising are cornerstones to any marketing strategy, especially for small businesses and startups. Without the ability to advertise, customers can’t find your product.

If customers can’t find your product, you don’t have a business.

When our ads promoting FLEX (a new menstrual product for 12 hours of period protection & mess-free period sex) were denied, we found ourselves scratching our heads.

After our Facebook ad ran for a few weeks, the picture below was flagged for “adult imagery.”

The Flex Company ad image
This begs the question: how are videos displaying gun violence and people dying allowed to be viewed and shared by millions, yet an innocent image like what we chose for our ad are deemed ‘adult’?

In late 2015 there was a massive public outcry at the MTA in New York City for rejecting ads for period panties, yet little has been said about the ad censorship issue at Facebook or Google, which are arguably much more important channels for small business advertising.

It’s time that we speak up about what type of content we really think is inappropriate in hopes that companies like Facebook and Google will take note and update their policies to reflect our values as a society.

If you agree, tap that heart below. It would mean a lot to me and also help more people see this article. :)