Elsewhere online
October 01, 2015

Facebook Reverses Ban on Sight-Loss Charity's Video Ad

After barring a Royal National Institute of Blind People advertisement that asks viewers to consider how they would feel if they were losing their sight, Facebook did an about-face Wednesday and cleared the clip, The Guardian reports. The company drew fire on social media for initially refusing the ad, saying it violates internal guidelines that favor "neutral or positive" messages and disallow "threatening" language.

The British charity, known as RNIB, began showing the spot on its YouTube channel in mid-September and had submitted it to Facebook's advertising team for approval. The video depicts a teary-eyed women contemplating losing her home and job because she is going blind and promotes the need for sight-loss advisers at British hospitals.

In an email to RNIB Wednesday, a member of the Facebook team said the social network does not allow ads "to directly assert the physical condition of the audience" but ultimately determined that the sight-loss spot does not do so. A Facebook spokeswoman said the company had "made a mistake" and apologized to the institute.

Despite the reversal in this case, Facebook's resistance to "hard-hitting" campaigns could have implications for organizations dealing with issues such as domestic violence and the refugee crisis that are seeking a cost-effective way to get their message across, a charity trustee writes in a Guardian opinion piece.