Facebook has a tough time regulating the content users post, but it has an equally difficult time determining what advertisements it should block from its platform. And because Facebook’s removal rules are so unclear, it can set off a firestorm when the company does decide to take something down. That’s exactly what occurred earlier this month when tech privacy startup Bloom had its ads suddenly pulled from Facebook.
Facebook said it pulled the ads because Bloom violated the site’s rules surrounding cryptocurrency advertising, but the startup doesn’t actually sell any financial services. However, because Bloom is a company that helps people control their data and log in to apps and websites, cryptocurrency terms are mentioned on its site. According to the co-founder of Bloom, Jesse Leimgruber, the company also posted ads on Facebook after it was hacked that made fun of the platform, and promised better protection for user data.
“They probably didn’t like that the ads were really pointed and that we ramped up spend after the Facebook hack,” Leimgruber said. “They were directed at ‘take back the data’ in the days after the Facebook hack. I’m sure they were very sensitive to this. I think they just needed a way to justify banning us.”
For its part, Facebook didn’t acknowledge Leimgruber’s theory. However, it did say that it has not permanently shut down Bloom’s ad account. Instead, Facebook is just rejecting Bloom’s ads when it tries to place one.
From the outside, there’s no telling what actually happened here. But the startup’s leaders certainly feel strongly that Facebook has censored them.