Having been refused advertising back in the day by Exchange & Mart for wanting to use a mobile number instead of a landline, then barred from Ebay for life in a bizarre turn of events despite having perfect stats for over 10 years and, finally, having my ads removed from Gumtree because I offered Bitcoin as a payment option, I now find that I am on the Facebook naughty list for promoting my most recent book.
The book, an innocent little affair called ‘How to Explain Bitcoin to your mum‘ is an easy to understand lighthearted, yet thorough, explanation of what Bitcoin is and how it works, written for a complete beginner. As the title suggests, it was written with my mum in mind who doesn’t understand or use the internet and doesn’t own a mobile phone. Just try explaining Bitcoin in THOSE circumstances! (I’m please to report, incidentally, that the book did have the desired effect and my mum no longer thinks I am going to prison for operating a giant worldwide scam.)
As most writer’s do, I’d set up an ‘Author’s Facebook‘ page to peddle my wares and happily – and innocently – added my books and the obligatory blurb. So far, so good.
A few days and posts later and I got a message from Facebook. Apparently, they loved my last post about the book SOOOO much that they felt I ought to promote it. I declined, but that wasn’t the end of the matter. It seems Facebook were SOOOO keen for me to promote it, they would give me £15’s worth of credit to do so. Well, Facebook, if you say so, then I will.
I followed the usual procedure, refined the audience, checked my spelling (something I have to do at least twenty times … and still with no guarantees) and pressed submit. Facebook seemed pleased and sent me a cheery message saying that they’d approve it and we’d be off.
A few minutes later I got an email with a very different tone. “Who the hell do you think you are?” said the message in, admittedly, completely different words but with no doubt about it’s meaning. “Don’t you know we don’t allow adverts that deal with binary options or ICOs?” I did actually, but since this was neither I was a little taken aback. I wan’t even that bothered about promoting the post in the first place, but now I wanted my ad to run. And only because you told me not to.
I noticed there was a handy little button that said ‘Ask for a second review’ so, of course, I pressed it and stated my case.
I explained politely, and without a hint of sarcasm (for once) what an ICO was and what Bitcoin was. I also pointed out that neither had anything to do with Binary options and, even if they did, it was STILL irrelevant as this was a lighthearted book explaining a concept and NOT a promotion of a financial product or service. So there.
I didn’t actually put ‘so there’ although I did think of doing so. I re-read it, to make sure no sarcasm or haughtiness had crept it and pressed the submit button.
Minutes later I got a response. Here it is in it’s entirety:
Note the subtle addition this time. The text is almost identical to the previous ‘party line’, but this time the words ‘or cryptocurrency’ have been lazily added on the end. Can’t help thinking it might have been better to add that in the first place, although even that opens up a whole debate there and then whether we should be tarnishing the entire industry globally with the same brush.
At least they wanted me to have a great day. Which was nice.
But then it got worse.
The ad for my other book ‘MONEY: Yours, mine or ours’ (a self-help book about achieving financial balance at home with your partner that comes complete with funky pre-formatted spreadsheets to fill in as you go through the book) suddenly stopped running too, although it had been successfully doing so for some time. It also was now ‘promoting financial products and services that are frequently associated with misleading or deceptive practices’. Just like that, all of a sudden. How odd.
Out of curiosity, I wondered what would happen if I clicked on ‘Promote your website.’ Nope, that was now off limits.
‘Get more page likes?’ – No way, Jose.
‘Get more link clinks’ – Forget it mate, you’re ‘aving a laugh.
In fact everything to do with promotion of this page or my books was (and still is) no longer available. Wow. That’s harsh.
I noticed there was ANOTHER little button that said I could provide feedback for their reviewing team. So I did.
I was, again, very polite and merely pointed out that we could all save each other a whole bunch of time and hassle if, perhaps, Facebook didn’t offer people money to promote posts that they didn’t want promoting in the first place. And then penalize them for doing so. I also mentioned that they had given me a nice little blog story and if they’d like to make a comment to include, I’d be happy to do so. Also, I hoped they’d have a truly wonderful day.
I’ve not heard anything back as yet.
Of course, there will come a time when we’ll look back at this quaint time of Facebook not allowing even a mention of Bitcoin in the same way as we remember Exchange & Mart not accepting my ad simply because I wanted to use only a mobile number, but right now it’s a little, well, rude. Not to mention inconvenient waiting for them to play catch-up.
And as for me, having managed, entirely innocently, to upset Ebay, Gumtree and now Facebook, I have to wonder what would happen if I actually went out of my way to be difficult.
I wonder indeed.
What do YOU think? Is Facebook taking this too far or do you think they’re right? Always interested to hear your view