FaceBook Flyers: How to Get Banned in Minutes

Facebook’s new Flyers Pro pay-per-click ads have got a lot of affiliates excited (see exhibits A, B and C).

The good news is Facebook have dropped their nonsensical $50/day ad spend cap. The bad news is it’s still super-simple to get banned and have your ad account disabled without playing dirty.


Late last night, I placed an ad for a prize draw sponsored by a well-known alcohol brand. The ads were shown only to UK users old enough to buy booze. The ad was disapproved. That’s fine; Facebook have every right to moderate ads on their site.

The kicker? It’s in three parts:

1) Facebook refuse to explain why an ad is disapproved (I later learned they disallow alcohol ads).

2) Facebook’s advertiser guidelines (PDF) are only displayed once you’ve had an ad disapproved. There are no guidelines for new advertisers.

3) One disapproved ad puts you well on the way to a ban.

Ergo there is no way for a new advertiser to understand Facebook’s advertising rules without inadvertently breaking them. And breaking the rules puts your Facebook Flyers Pro account at risk.

As far as I am aware, I did not breach any of Facebook’s other advertising guidelines. Yet in the early hours of this morning my Facebook ad account was disabled with this message:

“An error has occurred. Your account has been disabled. Generally, we disable an account if too many of its ads violate our Terms of Service or Advertising Guidelines. All of your ads have been stopped and should not be run again on the site under any circumstances. Unfortunately we cannot provide you with the specific violations that have been deemed abusive. Please review our Terms and Guidelines if you have further questions.”

My advice? Read Facebook’s advertising guidelines (PDF) very, very closely. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s banned by Facebook:

  • Adult content
  • Profanity, vulgarity and obscenity
  • Defamatory, libelous or slanderous content
  • Content that infringes upon the rights of any third party (eg, copyright, trademarks)
  • Liquor, beer, wine, tobacco products or firearms
  • Gambling
  • Inflammatory religious content
  • Politically religious agendas
  • Political content that exploits political agendas for commercial use
  • Hate speech
  • Illegal activity
  • Content from uncertified pharmacies;
  • Web cams or surveillance equipment for non-legitimate use
  • “Spam” or other advertising that violates applicable laws
  • Web-based non-accredited colleges that offer degrees
  • Credit card applications

Keep a close eye on the T+Cs, since the wording of these has changed since last night.

PS. The question everyone asks is “Does Facebook traffic convert”? My answer: Damn right, if you are smart with what you promote (ie, Facebook users aren’t shopping for mortgages).

  • markus941 says:

    I think you can get to the “rules” by clicking on the terms, which expands once clicked – but then you have to click on the link within that takes you to the real TOS you mention above. They really need to make that more prominent.

    I wonder if the TOS is being revised as they go along (in part due to uber-affiliate type of stuff).

    This part – “Content that infringes upon the rights of any third party” – seems so vague, they can probably throw out anything they don’t feel like running.

    They also don’t allow me to delete the disapproved ad – maybe as a stern reminder. Seems like a very-beta-ish product. Glad to see the $50 ban lifted though – assuming anyone actually figures out a way to make any money with it.

  • Richard Kershaw says:

    Markus, you’re right. I’ve finally found the ‘advertiser guidelines’ buried in a PDF inside the other T+Cs. But – wow! – that’s far from obvious. I certainly didn’t see them setting up ads as a new advertiser.

    Regarding Facebook’s terms and conditions changing on the fly, the phrasing of their ban on adult dating sites changed from referring to ‘adult friend finders’ to ‘adult dating content’ between last night and this morning (NB. this wasn’t what I was promoting, I just noticed the trademark-clumsy wording last night).

  • Just a side note; the limit is still there… only it is now $250 (daily aggregate limit for all campaigns under same account) instead of $50.

  • Richard Kershaw says:

    Thanks Robin, I missed that.

    Facebook, incidentally, reinstated my account, although I am none the wiser as to how I broke the rules they mention:

    Hi Richard,

    Your Flyers Pro Account was disabled for violating the following
    guidelines in Facebook’s Flyers Terms of Service:

    – No ad may be deceptive or fraudulent about any offer it makes.
    – If an ad includes a price, discount, or ‘free’ offer, the
    destination URL for the ad must link to a page that clearly and
    accurately offers the exact deal the ad has displayed.
    – If an ad includes a price, discount, or ‘free’ offer, the
    advertisement must clearly
    – Ads may not include unnecessary capitalization (such as ‘FREE’).
    Acronyms may be capitalized.

    I have reactivated your account. If you choose to purchase more
    flyers, please make sure that they adhere to our guidelines. We
    appreciate your cooperation going forward.

    Thanks for contacting Facebook,

    Customer Support Representative

  • Bob says:

    I fail to see why they don’t allow credit card applications?! or alchol ones to over 18s in the UK..

    I’m really unsure as to any useful long term advertising prospects with facebook on their ppc platform. I tried a nice litle test with a well know uk gadget site, racked up a nice little loss on that test!

  • Bob says:

    oh, and I too find it ridiculously hard to find any guidelines before you actually post an advert!!!

  • CJ says:

    I too have had numerous ads disapproved, with no apparent logic behind the disapproval. Each time, I email them (using the hard to find Contact Us section), at which point they typically say “Your ad was disapproved in error, now reinstated, blah blah”. So, the question is, why do they disapprove ads so often when a simple human review invariably gets them reinstated?!?

  • debtfreedave says:

    Thanks for the info… I just started on facebook and don’t want to get kicked off…..

  • Nick Jag says:

    Yeah, Facebook is very strict when it comes to their ads – much more so than MySpace is. I read through their Terms of Service and you’re not even allowed to have the word “Facebook” on your landing page or even in your URL (say if you were doing a blog or something). They also hand approve everything that goes through.

    There are two sides of me on this one – the first, I agree with how strict they are because the last company I worked for wanted to advertise with them a while ago but was concerned about the quality effect (which is obviously decent with their strict guidelines). The second, I’m sure it’s holding back a lot of revenue from them, whether it be alcohol companies trying to do some Facebook marketing or any other large type of corporation.

  • Kenny says:

    Seems like Facebook is very strict on their ads.
    I’ve tried to contact Facebook before to start an ad dedicated for Hong Kong people only. And they said it’s not available in the current moment and cannot tell me when will it be available.

  • CJ says:

    Has anybody found a way to get assigned a Facebook rep, or at least a phone number? The length of time it is taking to get a response from their email form is ridiculous. How does this company make any money?

  • Marco Antonio says:

    Does this apply to widgets/applications as well?

  • Richard Kershaw says:

    @Marco Antonio: I believe the rules are different for widgets/applications. They seem far less stringent, although I have no first hand experience with Facebook widgets/apps.

  • lalah says:

    I had my ad approved and within an hour my entire account was disabled.So that’s more frustrating to me. They have my credit card info, they can run the ad and say I had x-amount of clicks this day, and there is no way for me to monitor it, I can’t stop the ad, because they won’t reply to any of my emails. So now I’m just stuck with Facebook charging me for ad, I can’t see because they disabled my account. I made a complaint with the State Attorney General’s office, and I’m going to small claims court to sue Mark Zuckerman, after I see what the State Attorney General says. If someone doesn’t stand up to them, they will continue to do people anyway they like.

  • Li says:

    lalah, I’m having exactly the same problem. They disabled the account but won’t let go of my credit card. I guess the only option is to contact the bank, cancel the card and put in a claim for a chargeback.


    I try 2 CREAT a AD using facebook but i got this message on the bottom about my account . but i never created a ad untill now i i like 2 know wie facebook continual 2 FUNK WITH PEOPLES ACCOUNT LIKE THEY DO ITS BULLSHIT..>>>>>>>

    Your account has been disabled. All of your ads have been stopped and should not be run again on the site under any circumstances. Generally, we disable an account if too many of its ads violate our Terms of Use or Advertising Guidelines. Unfortunately we cannot provide you with the specific violations that have been deemed abusive. Please review our Terms of Use and Advertising Guidelines if you have further questions

  • Private Me says:

    I got this message from day one, now the kicker is, that I never launched any advertising with them previously, facebook is the feak show of the bizarre,part of the new nazi heist of corporate America, they don’t deserve to get on single penny of my money, and they never will.

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