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Facebook: Sorry for Banning That Ad Featuring a Plus-Sized Model

May 24, 2016, 2:44 PM UTC
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Facebook said it is sorry for rejecting an image featuring a plus-sized model as part of an event advertisement posted on the site. The social network initially said it banned the photo for portraying a body in an “undesirable manner.”

The image in question depicted Tess Holliday, an American plus-size model, beaming with arms raised while wearing a bikini. The Australian feminist talkshow group Cherchez la Femme, which posted the image to promote an event about body positivity, was met with another rejection after first appealing the decision.

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As Jessamy Gleeson, one of the producers of the event (called “Cherchez La Femme: Feminism and Fat“), described the incident in a Facebook post, explaining the social network said it took down the photo because it promoted “an idealised physical image.” After the group protested, Facebook reaffirmed that the image bucked its “health and fitness policy.”

“Ads like these are not allowed since they make viewers feel bas about themselves,” a Facebook (FB) ad team rep said. “Instead, we recommend using an image of a relevant activity, like running or riding a bike.”

Members of Cherchez were outraged. The group called on its followers to “join us in our disgust” and share the post, saying that it intended to “rage hard at anyone who tries to tell us that some bodies are more ‘desirable’ than others.”

Facebook eventually reversed course, releasing a statement of apology on Monday. “Our team processes millions of advertising images each week, and in some instances we incorrectly prohibit ads,” the company said. “This image does not violate our ad policies. We apologize for the error and have let the advertiser know we are approving their ad.”

Facebook has come under fire for its muddy censorship practices before. Recently, a contractor at the company said the social network routinely suppressed conservative news. Facebook has blocked politically charged content in Russia before. Earlier this year, it removed a photo featuring topless Aboriginal women in body paint, saying that it flouted “community standards,” as the Guardian notes.

Gleeson told the Guardian that Facebook’s apology did not satisfy her, remarking she “hopes the company will re-examine its policies and address double standards in how it reviews photos of women.”