Facebook initially disallowed this photo from being
used in an ad campaign for the movie "Attenberg." (Tri Art.)
There are hundreds of Facebook pages devoted to kissing, lesbians, and love, not to mention pictures of lip-locking females in members’ photo albums seems to be a staple on the social networking site. Yet last week Facebook rejected an advertisement featuring two ladies touching tongues.
The ad was submitted by Swedish-based film distributors TriArt Films, who were hoping to use the popular platform to promote “Attenberg” – a critically-acclaimed Greek film centered on a young woman’s struggle to find her place in the world.
“Our ad for ‘Attenberg,’ using the poster image of two women touching tongues, has been DISAPPROVED,” an upset TriArt said in a statement on their Facebook Page.
The distributor’s rep hinted at a possible double standard at play on Facebook’s behalf, as they said that a previous ad for their film "Tre," which showed a heterosexual couple sharing an intimate kiss, was deemed “fine” by Facebook.
The offending image was also allowed to remain on TriArt’s profile page and as a profile picture.
Pop Tarts contacted Facebook regarding the issue, and was informed that the matter was being looked into.
We received a statement 24 hours later.
“Upon investigation, we concluded the advertisement does not violate our guidelines and was removed in error,” said Andrew Noyes, Manager, Public Policy Communications @ Facebook. “The ad is now running and we apologize for the inconvenience.”
While the social networking site does have specific conditions regarding images and ads of a sexual nature, there are currently no particular rules banning images of people kissing, regardless of gender.
So what kind of “error” did Facebook make in this situation? A genuine mistake – or a sudden need to step out of hot water?
Advertising expert and the editor of AdRants, Steve Hall, is skeptical that Facebook would have rejected the submission based on its girl-on-girl nature – although he was surprised by the initial decision.
“It's more likely a male gay ad would receive more scrutiny than a female gay ad. It seems society is more accepting of female on female than male on male,” he said. “But it’s the right of any publisher to reject any ad for any reason they choose. That said, banning an ad that shows two women kissing really goes against what is considered acceptable these days. I’d say Facebook acted a bit too conservatively in this situation given the millions of racy images the organization allows on its profile pages.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) did not respond to our request for comment.
Facebook found themselves in a similar controversy a few weeks ago when they removed an image of two males kissing on a page calling for a “kiss in” protest surrounding an incident at a pub, where a gay couple were exposed for kissing. But following a public uproar Facebook reinstated the page along with an apology, once again stating that the photo was removed “in error.”
Yet some don’t believe the company owes anyone any admissions.
“Facebook is a private company and they have the right to ban ads and images as they see fit,” said New York-based media strategist, Adam Weiss. “Why must we as a society have a problem if it’s a gay or a lesbian ad and some company doesn’t feel it’s the right fit? Private companies should have the right in America to decide their own advertising policies.”