On October 19, 2023, Python and Pandas instructor Reuven Lerner posted on his blog and narrated that he had been banned for life from advertising on Facebook.
Python is an open source programming language used by many developers and programmers around the world, while Pandas is a software library written for the Python programming language for data manipulation and analysis.
It was unclear why Facebook banned him from advertising his programming course, but he was able to request an explanation and reconsideration at that time. Unfortunately, he received a vague reply that read, “After a requested review of your Facebook account, we confirmed it didn’t comply with our Advertising Policies or other standards. You can no longer advertise using Facebook Products. This is our final decision.”
Lerner also shared his experience on LinkedIn, and a friend reached out to him, saying that he had a similar experience. It turns out that Facebook’s shady algorithm mistakenly identified Lerner as selling live animals, specifically pythons and pandas, which are illegal. For this reason, it banned him from advertising on Facebook again without providing a clear reason.
The instructor reached out to friends who had connections with Facebook’s parent company, Meta. They attempted to resolve the issue, but the algorithm’s decision was said to be final.
He wrote, “Three friends who have worked at Meta (two current, one past) offered to check into this for me. The first friend looked into it and found that there was nothing to be done. That’s because Meta has a data retention policy of only 180 days, and because my account was suspended more than one year before I asked people to look into it, all of the evidence is now gone. Which means that there’s no way to reinstate my advertising account.”
“Now, I’m not a big believer in ‘there’s nothing to be done,’ especially when it comes to companies and software, both of which are created and managed by people. But this friend seemed convinced, so I moved onto a second one. He didn’t get any further. And the third friend? He didn’t seem to make any headway, either,” he continued.
He ended his post emphasizing that he should have been given more time, saying, “But even more absurd is the fact that because I didn’t react to the ban with a certain amount of time, there now seems to be no way for me to undo it. Which means that when I start to advertise my course again — and I’m actually planning to do so in the near future — Meta won’t be seeing any of my money, whereas companies like Google, who seem to employ at least some humans in their advertising department — will.”
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