Facebook explains decision to ban charity's advertisements

The internet giant says the adverts, featuring beneficiaries of Flying Scholarships for Disabled People, appeared to be targeted based on 'sensitive personal attributes'

Facebook has defended its decision to remove adverts for a charity that offers scholarships to teach disabled people to fly aeroplanes.

Yesterday the social media giant said it was investigating why the Gloucestershire-based charity Flying Scholarships for Disabled People was told that its adverts, which featured some of its beneficiaries, could not be run on the website

The charity was told in an automated email that its adverts were not acceptable.

The adverts featured the name and photograph of different beneficiaries and named their disabilities, but also explained that they were pilots and encouraged viewers to find out more. 

The automated message from Facebook said "such copy can feel personal in nature and we don’t want users to feel singled out", according to a report in The Sun newspaper yesterday.

But in a statement today, Simon Milner, Facebook’s policy director for the UK, Middle East and Africa, said the adverts that were rejected had also included additional text underneath the picture, which asked the question, "have a disability?" something not mentioned in The Sun’s report, or the charity’s statement on the issue.

Milner said: "This part of the advert is not allowed on Facebook and here’s why. When a person sees this ad on Facebook they might believe they are being shown the ad because either the charity or Facebook knows or believes they are disabled.

"This is not the case, because Facebook does not allow advertising to be targeted based on sensitive personal attributes. For the same reasons, we don't allow any ads that imply this."

He said he believed that the rest of the advert was a great example of a charity using Facebook to tell an inspiring story.

He said he had personally been in touch with one of the charity’s trustees to explain why the adverts had been removed, and to help them make alterations to fit in with the site’s advertising policy.

"We're sorry that they had this experience on our platform and wanted to take the time here to help explain why this happened," he said.

No one from the charity responded to Third Sector’s request for confirmation that the adverts in question had contained the extra line of text.

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