There are any number of reasons why you might be blocked from the Facebook ads program, but all of them come back to one thing; a violation of the ads terms of service. These violations can come from various actions, however, and they fall into a few basic categories. If you’ve been blocked, check through these and see what horrible mistake you made.
Were You Really Blocked?
Before you check to see if you violated the terms of service, you might want to check to see if you were really blocked. It’s not common, but I have seen people asking about being blocked from the system, when they were just trying to access it from the wrong account. They also might have gotten their ads rejected, which is not the same thing as being blocked from the program.
If you were actually blocked from the program, you will see a message like one of these when you try to access it:
- Your ad account has recently been flagged because of unusual activity. For security reasons, any ads you’re running will be paused until you can confirm your account information.
With that in mind, here are the various causes of an ads program block.
Unrecognized Account Access
This one is simple, and can happen to anyone who travels frequently. When you log in to Facebook’s ads program, it checks your location based on your Internet connection. If you typically always access your account from New York, and the next day you happen to travel to China for business, Facebook will see you accessing the ads system from China if you try to log on. This matches known hacker activity – accessing an account from outside the country of origin – and thus causes an automatic block.
Ideally, this is in place to lock your account and keep hackers from stealing your information, running ads for their own content using your budget, or otherwise compromising the integrity of the ads system. Unfortunately, it can hit business travelers as well, and cause a multi-month hassle getting your account unblocked.
Various financial issues can cause a block from the ads program. Specifically, if you try to run an ad using a credit card and the credit card bounces the payment, Facebook will immediately halt the ad, leave a charge on your account for any budget used but not paid for, and will block your account for financial fraud. This can happen for any method of payment.
Another financial issue is if you try to use 2-3 credit cards, or more, and they are all deactivated. This is activity typical of a fraudster trying stolen credit cards until they find one that works. Facebook doesn’t want to enable fraud, so will deactivate an account that looks to be doing something like this.
You may be able to get such an account unblocked, but Facebook takes financial fraud very seriously. Be very careful with adding and removing payment options.
Ads that Violate Guidelines
There are a ton of guidelines that regulate what you can and can’t do with your ads. Here’s a selective list:
- For news feed ads, you can’t surpass more than 20% text in the images you use. Your sidebar ads can have any amount of text. This is highly subjective, using Facebook’s wonky grid tool.
- You can mention Facebook in your ads, but it needs to be written normally, capitalized. It can’t be replaced with the logo, it can’t be pluralized or verbed, and it can’t be altered.
- You can’t advertise age-restricted material to an audience that’s under the minimum age. For example, advertising alcohol to an audience that includes people under legal drinking age. Likewise, you can’t advertise any illegal or controlled substances, like prescription drugs, illegal drugs, or firearms.
- You cannot use sexually suggestive or explicit images in your ads. In some cases, even basic cleavage can get an ad removed, if it’s not tastefully presented.
- You cannot use images that are meant to shock, scare, or otherwise cause a dramatic negative response in viewers. This includes implied violence or, as they often use as an example, images of car crashes.
- You cannot use language that targets specific people, or specific demographics. For example, you cannot say “Are You Christian?” in your ads. You can’t use names or demographic information directed at the viewer.
- You cannot falsely advertise your product or service.
- You can’t link to a page that serves malware or viruses, that disrupts the user’s ability to navigate away from the page, or that loads and plays a video or audio track automatically.
- You can’t feature a video “play button” in your images.
- You cannot use “before and after” comparison images.
There are also a few types of restricted content. Alcohol, as mentioned before, is restricted by age in various geographical locations. Dating sites cannot be advertised at all, unless you have prior permission from Facebook. Lotteries and gambling games cannot be promoted at all, except for government lotteries, and then only by the government in question. Online pharmacies are completely blocked.
Data Usage Violations
In addition to all of the various content restrictions, Facebook has data usage restrictions. If you’re collecting data from the users who view your ads, that data must be protected. You also cannot use the data with other advertisers, for retargeting outside of Facebook, or piggybacked through redirected URLs.
Facebook also doesn’t want you to use advertising data to augment or edit user profiles in any way, including your own profiles. This is a nebulous rule, but it also rarely comes into play.
Anyone can be blocked on Facebook. Some people find it easy to get the block lifted; all they need to do is contact Facebook directly, submit proof of their identity or the validity of what they were doing, and the block disappears. Others will have a harder time. Sometimes, Facebook will just reaffirm their decision, and you will be forced to make another ads account. If you do, use different personal and financial information, lest Facebook blocks your new account as well.