Facebook Censors ACN's Campaign To Help Abused Women
On the 11. November, the Catholic Charity "Aid to a Church in Need" (ACN) UK noticed that Facebook had censored its ad campaign on tackling sexual violence against religious-minority women and girls. “Hear Her Cries” was the slogan of the campaign, which launched on 24. November. The campaign aimed to raise concern on a widespread problem in many African and Asian countries: the abduction of Christian girls and women for sexual violence by both armed extremists and militant members of other religious communities.
According to ACN, the social media platform censored the ads promoting a petition calling on the UK government to take action to tackle sexual violence against women from minority faiths in countries such as Egypt, Nigeria and Pakistan. Due to the restrictions imposed on 11th November, ACN affirms that their campaign had 90% fewer reach, resulting in a loss of around 7,000 signatures of support. The restrictions also meant the campaign was not available on WhatsApp or Instagram.
Facebook send a statement to Premier where they claimed that payment issues were the cause of the restriction. After investigating, they discovered there are historical payment issues on the ad account that are impacting spend limits." ACN refutes this and says it has provided evidence to show its account is not in arrears.
John Newton from ACN told Premier his concern about this non-reasonable censorship: "We've looked through those guidelines and policies again, and we cannot see a single way in which our advert actually violates a single one of those policies. We did a report looking at women from Christian minorities who are attacked and who suffer this terrible form of violence. I know that there were comments on our adverts that complained that we were specifically focusing on Christian women. But if people read the text, it's fair to say that our petition and our campaign has been looking at all those who are affected (…) The petition was very much about campaigning for all minorities. We hoped that this was a campaign that people could have got behind and could have supported regardless of their religion."
Facebook claims to be running an investigation of the situation, but ACN commented: "Facebook tell us they're looking into the situation. But more than a month on this still hasn't been resolved. It's almost like banging your head against the wall. In fact, I think if you bang your head against the wall, you get more response than ACN is currently getting out of Facebook."
ACN (UK) national director Neville Kyrke-Smith said: "Facebook claims to have received complaints from people who objected to the advert - we can understand that the topic is objectionable, but surely that is all the more reason why we need to come together to make a stand against it. By curbing this campaign, they are silencing these women twice over. They are silenced when they are seized from their homes and forced to live with their abductors and have now been silenced again by Facebook."