09/04/2013 02:12 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Facebook Censors 'Juvenile Boobies' Ad; Birdwatching Group Cries Foul


Boobies are taking flight all over Christmas Island this week, but Facebook is not amused by attempts to publicize the event.

"Some gorgeous shots here of some juvenile boobies," read the now-blocked Facebook ad created by the Christmas Island Tourism Association. Below the sly newsprint were photos of large-billed birds including the Red-footed Booby, Brown Booby and endangered Abbott's Booby, reports AdWeek. Obviously the "juvenile boobies" mentioned in the ad are not female breasts but rather the three species of the young seabirds that call the Indian Ocean island home.

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Christmas Island is famous for its birds, close to 80,000 of which nest there each year, according to the Australian Associated Press. It is the only island where the Abbott's Booby nests.

While acknowledging its use of a suggestive pun, the tourism group maintained its intentions were merely to drum up publicity for Christmas Island's annual birdwatching week. That distinction didn't seem to make any difference to the content moderators over at the social network, however, causing the birdwatchers to cry foul.

"One of the world's great eco-tourism destinations is being deprived of its lifeline because someone at Facebook cannot comprehend that a booby is a bird," said Sam Collins, founder of Ethos Travel, according to Travel Daily News.

The Christmas Island Tourism Association told The Huffington Post in an email that Facebook rejected the ad because it violated the site's Ad Guidelines, which forbid the use of ad copy deemed "offensive, profane, vulgar, obscene, libelous, slanderous or unlawful."

"Facebook does not accept ads that insult, harass or demean users," Facebook told the Christmas Island Tourism Association. "[L]anguage that addresses age, gender, race, physical condition, sexual preference of a user or generates high negative feedback will not be allowed."

In a statement sent to The Huffington Post, Facebook spokesman Tim Rathschmidt explained that "the advertiser crossed the threshold we are comfortable with by using language such as 'juvenile boobies.' Even if the subject is about birds they are using unacceptable language, and we are therefore not reactivating these ads. ... Ads may not position products or services in a sexually suggestive manner."

Rathschmidt added that if the Christmas Island Tourism Association were to get rid of the word "juvenile" from its ad, Facebook would allow it to run.



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