Even in 2023, Facebook still reigns supreme in the digital world of social media advertising.
With over seven million advertisers setting up shop, the platform continues to be the go-to for companies looking to reach their target audience. But while these mainly consist of smaller businesses, the big players are still very much involved.
One thing businesses often forget about are Facebook Advertising Policies. Whether you're a local florist or a multinational business, you must comply with Facebook’s guidelines to begin running ads.
In this guide, we’ve outlined Facebook's ad policies in 2023, along with recent updates that could affect you directly. We'll also clear some common misconceptions and explain what hurdles you may face when submitting an ad.
Breaking Down the Facebook Ad Review Process
First, we need to explain the Facebook Ad Review process.
When you create and submit an advert, it's reviewed primarily by Facebook 's automated technology. However, human reviewers may also intervene to help train Facebook's AI software.
The review process uses Facebook's advertising standards to ensure that all adverts comply with their policies. This includes making sure the advert contains accurate information, isn’t misleading, doesn't contain any inappropriate visuals, text or messages and much more.
If your advert meets these criteria, it will be approved and made available for your target audience to see.
What Happens When a User Edits an Existing Ad?
You've submitted a perfectly crafted ad and it's been approved. But then you notice the image is off, the ad copy needs improvement and your target market is wrong.
So what happens if you edit a Facebook ad that’s been approved?
Any ad changes will simply trigger Facebook’s review process, repeating the same action by checking for any potential violations. And if it does not meet their criteria, it’s disapproved until you make it right. During this process, you'll see an "In review." status.
When updating an ad, changing the following will trigger the review process:
- Ad text i.e headline or copy
- Target audience
- Ad format
After your ad is reviewed and approved, it'll be live and ready to engage your target market.
Facebook’s Advertising Policies
Let's first explain what Facebook is protecting its user base from:
Unsafe and Discriminatory practices: advertisers and their respective ad content must follow the law in their jurisdiction. Thus, Facebook not only assesses an ad, but also the behaviour of the advertiser.
Fraud or Scams: any products, services or schemes that mislead or deceive users are prohibited, as are any content that encourages illegal activities. Think counterfeit goods, ponzi schemes etc.
A compromised user experience: Users see ads in their feeds everyday, so ones that detract from the overall experience are rejected. Ads that contain excessive violence, non-family friendly content, overly sexualised images, etc are all prohibited.
In addition to these points, every ad must comply with Facebook's transparency requirements. Users should be able to see:
- Advertiser identification
- Ad information about social, political and issues related to elections
- Ad expenditure
- Who saw the ad
Facebook's advertising policy involves checking for accuracy, misleading claims, copyright issues, and more. This applies to everything about your ad, including the logo, images, text and videos. Even your landing page content will be assessed during review to not lead users to any suspicious or unrelated content.
Facebook also has strict rules about what you can and cannot advertise. Let's go through every parameter:
Prohibited Content for Facebook Ads
While there is specific content that's restricted on the platform, there are some items that will automatically get you rejected. These include:
Ad Content that's Potentially Harmful
Weapons or Ammunition: this includes firearms, explosives, knives or other weapons. Anything related to these, such as weapon modifications or weapon accessories, will result in rejection.
Tobacco Products and E-Cigarettes: products related to paraphernalia (except cessation and education related products), or that contain nicotine and tobacco are not allowed. Even delivery devices that simulate smoking like e-cigarettes and vapes will be rejected.
Unsafe Substances: this includes any substance that can create a risk to public health, or lead to the death of an individual. Examples include recreational drugs, supplements and performance enhancers.
Misleading Content that Attempts to Deceive
Shady Business Practices: products or services that do not meet the expectations of users, or those that involve activities like phishing, malware and other deceptive practices.
Immoral Practices: anything that encourages users to cheat, manipulate the system or facilitate acts that are widely viewed as immoral, unethical and wrong.
Impractical Expectations: ads that mislead users into thinking they'll get miracle results, when they don't. This could be related to weight loss products or other health related products, or even economic opportunities.
Disregarding Policies: ads that deliberately try to bypass Facebook advertising policies. For example, a disguised landing page that leads to a site that violates policies.
Deceptive financial services: anything related to financial products or services that aren't genuine in their claims and use other deceptive promotional practices.
Payday loans: ads that provide payday loans, payslip advances, and other short-term loans with high rates of interest will be rejected.
Malware or Spyware: ads that contain any malicious software or code that could potentially affect users.
Dysfunctional ad content: ads content like buttons, notifications, and links that don't function.
Unacceptable or Offensive Content
Illicit Products or Services: illegal products or services that do not comply with the laws of any jurisdiction.
Hate Speech: content that discriminates against anyone based on their respective attributes. These can include race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and more. Furthermore, advertisers cannot exclude groups when targeting their ads.
Incorrect information: content that fails to pass Facebook's third-party fact checkers. This can range from ads promoting false health claims, to false news.
Anti-Vaccination Content: ads that discourage users from getting vaccinated.
Hateful Content: ads that suggest or say a particular group of people is inferior or a threat to public safety. Groups can be based on religion, race, sexual orientation, gender and more.
Endorsements of individuals or groups: ads that praise, promote or endorse extremist individuals or groups.
Restricted Ad Content
Online pharmacies and over-the-counter drugs: Ads that advertise online pharmacies to users without a valid prescription. Or, any drugs that require a doctor's recommendation. Over-the-counter drugs must comply with the advertiser's local laws and industry codes and guidelines.
Online gambling: online games or gambling platforms that allow users to win monetary or material prizes. In this case, you must have written permissions from Facebook, as gambling laws vary across countries and states.
Subscription services and branded content: All subscription services that include automatic renewal, and "free services" that are partly restricted until payment. Third-parties advertising another brand's tool must tag the brand in all their ads.
Social, elections, or politics issues: Ads that promote a specific election, or political figure or party must comply with Facebook's regulations.
Dating and Alcohol: dating services must adhere to Facebook's specific targeting requirements i.e. age restrictions, and any alcohol-related ads must comply with local laws, and guidelines. Furthermore, alcohol ads must include country targeting criteria consistent with Facebook's targeted guidelines.
Financial products and services: ads must disclose all relevant fees and restrictions associated with the product or service, as well as any potential risks. Information should also include APR percentages, interest rates, and other details. The target audience must be 18 years or older.
Addiction treatments: treatment services i.e rehab centres who provide in-person treatment, must be LegitScript certified before advertising.
Cryptocurrency: ads promoting cryptocurrency products, services, platforms and staking must have written permission from Facebook.
Cosmetic procedures: ads that promote cosmetic surgery, reconstructive surgery, and medical treatments must not include before-and-after images, or any false claims. Can only be targeted to adults 18 years and older.
Social online casinos: simulated casinos with no real money or material prizes. These must clearly state they're a game of skill, and not chance and targeted for adults 18 years and older.
Content of Concern
Adult Content: ads that contain nudity, explicit or suggestive positions and sexual activity.
Curse words or incorrect spelling: Profanity, regardless of context, along with incorrect grammar. Words, numbers and symbols that are used incorrectly or circumvent the Facebook ad review process.
Misleading landing pages: Landing pages that lead the user to low quality ad content or products that are different from those advertised. These also include misleading ad positioning which intentionally misleads the viewer.
Disruptive content: ad copy and its respective position which can disrupt a person's user-experience. This can range from sensational language to misleading visual content.
Personal Attributes: ad content that implies or asserts about someone's personal attributes. This could include race, beliefs, religion, nationality and more.
Exploitation of Crises and Controversial events: ads that use a crisis or controversial event to sell products or services. For example, if a natural disaster or a political event is used to draw attention to an ad.
Body Shaming and Health: anything that puts users down for their body type, health or any other physical attributes.
Sale of body parts: the promotion of organs, tissues or any other body parts on sale.
Before and after photos: ads containing before and after, i.e a weight loss transformation or skincare transformation.
Ads that Violate Intellectual Property Rights
Use of third-party material: use of images, videos or text belonging to someone else without permission. Furthermore, ads that imply they're in partnership with Facebook or its respective brands will be rejected.
Facebook references: ads that reference any of Facebook's pages, or even sites that use Facebook are limited by the platform. Furthermore, modification or use of Facebook's features i.e logo and trademarks, in any way is prohibited.
Copyrights and trademarks: landing pages must not include Facebook copyrights, trademarks or any similar marks that could be misconstrued as being from Facebook. Ad destination pages are checked in the review process to ensure you're not violating this policy.
Facebook screenshots: ads containing screenshots of Facebook's user interface or its respective brands must be unedited. Any changes like adding animation, text or editing any images around the screenshot can cause your ad to be denied.
How to Prevent Facebook Ad Account Bans and What to Do Afterwards
The worst feeling as an advertiser is having their Facebook ad account terminated. This can be really devastating and result in lost time, resources and money. However, by taking a few preventative steps, you are far less likely to receive the ban hammer.
Let's explore some of the most common reasons for a ban and how you can avoid them:
Repeated Policy Violations: If you submit an ad that hasn't complied with Facebook's policies, it'll get rejected - no big deal. However, if you're consistently submitting ads that don't comply with policies, your account could be flagged and terminated.
Irregular Activity: Unusual acts from your account can set off detection systems. This could range from a huge spike in ad performance to too much ad spend in a short amount of time for new accounts.
Circumventing systems: Any techniques that fly under the Meta ad review process. Also, if an advertiser is caught creating multiple accounts to advertise the same product or service, this can lead to an account ban.
If your account is banned but you felt it wasn't just, you can initiate the appeals process. Visit Meta Business Support and submit an appeal with a detailed report of your action, along with any evidence i.e screenshots or documents to support your claim.
What’s Changed in Facebook's Advertising Policies in 2023
It pays to be aware of Facebook ad policies in 2023. Businesses, who once were advertising without a hitch, can suddenly find their ad campaigns being denied due to the changes in policy.
Like the law, ignorance is no excuse.
The best way to avoid any issues with your ad campaigns is to get inspiration from Facebook Ad Library, stay up-to-date and familiarise yourself with new policy changes. Let's go through some of them:
IP Protection API
Content creator monetisation programs are a recently introduced feature, allowing creators to earn monetary compensation for their campaigns. The IP Protection API allows content creators to report other users who have stolen or duplicated their content for their own financial benefit. These are called fake accounts and can be reported using the IP Protection API.
Due to the so many fake accounts copying content, Facebook has prioritised the IP Protection API to help combat this. This means that if your content has been copied, there's a better chance of it being flagged and taken down.
Furthermore, brands with a high enough profile, can report other users that have copied their content, used counterfeit products, impersonated them or otherwise misreported the brand. This is known as the Brand Rights Protection feature
New Brand Right Protection Features in 2023
Some of the new features that have been introduced as part of Facebook's Brand Rights Protection feature include:
Automated takedown feature: This is reserved for trusted brands who have successfully caught and reported infringing accounts in the past. If one of these brands reports an account, it can be taken down without a manual review.
Allow lists: Brands can add a list of approved accounts which they trust to use their content without any issues.
Automated recommendations: This feature lets Facebook recommend pages, accounts, lists and ads that are related to your brand.
Enables brands to search and report: These can be profiles, pages, ads or groups that might be misusing your brand.
A new Insights dashboard: Shows the results of any reports you've submitted in the past 90 days. This provides brands with a better understanding of the effectiveness of their reporting.
Facebook Ad Policies are Now Called Meta Ad Standards
The name change goes beyond just wanting to sound cool. It's part of Facebook's wider initiative to ensure it meets the highest standards to protect users and make things as transparent as possible.
Unfortunately, communicating Facebook's guidelines to the platform can be a struggle. Simply getting a response to discuss why your ad campaign was rejected can feel like a fairytale. You can provide your reasoning, but it's most likely an automated system will review it. As such, it's important to manage your expectations and adhere to the new meta ad standards.
What Other Ad Policies Can We Expect in 2023?
Facebook's ad policy is constantly changing and evolving. As such, it's hard to predict what the future holds for this wonderful, yet complex platform.
In 2023, we have already seen the Facebook ads manager removing gender as demographic targeting option to reach teens. Advertisers, therefore, have only been able to use location and age to target their intended younger audiences.
Let’s go through a few more:
Reels will Continue to Get Updates
Reels are to Instagram like Facebook Stories are to Facebook. Reel ads are a big money-maker, generating enormous profits, and engagements for the platform and advertisers.
To ensure their continued success, Facebook has continued to update the following:
Content scheduling: advertisers can schedule their ad creative in advance
Digital collectibles: Facebook's equivalent to non-fungible tokens (NFTs), giving creators and fans a way to monetise and enjoy content
Achievement features: Enables content creators to unlock achievements and rewards from trying different reel features. It's basically Meta's way of acknowledging their best creators.
Always Keep Up-to-Date with Facebook's Ad Policies to Avoid Penalties
Sometimes, businesses can see their sales plummet due to changes being made in the platform or policy updates. As such, you always want to keep your finger on the pulse of any changes made to the rules, policies and marketplace.
Facebook is always introducing new rules for its ad platform due to new evolving trends and to protect its users. By staying up-to-date with these changes, you can avoid any unexpected penalties, suspensions or even account terminations.
To stay informed, regularly it helps to check Facebook's advertising policies and guidelines. It's always best to be safe than sorry and learn the rules before they change.