A few weeks ago, I was asked by the Irish Family Planning Association if I, along with thousands of healthcare professionals and sex positivity advocates, would take part in their Pearl of Wisdom campaign to raise awareness of cervical cancer and to promote regular cervical screenings for women and trans men aged 25-60. As someone who has had multiple friends go through cervical cancer and pre-cancer treatments, this is something I feel very passionate about.
However last night I received a message on my phone that my ad - which I lovingly referred to as my “Public Cervix Announcement” and had been running for 3 days at this stage - had been unapproved. When I tried to appeal the decision made on my own ad, I was repeatedly shown a pop-up window that said my appeal could not be processed at this time.
I was upset, but by no means surprised. Back in October during Breast Cancer Awareness month, the Dublin Well Woman Centre encountered a similar problem with Facebook advertising when they tried to boost a post that showed women how to do a home breast exam. Their boost was also denied and it wasn’t until the problem was brought to the attention of the media that Facebook did anything about it.
The most frustrating thing about Facebook allowing the ad to run for several days and then stopping it was the fact I was able to see that spending a few quid meant the post had been seen by over 11,000 people. I was pretty chuffed with this as a normal post on my page is only seen by 25-100 people, something that has been especially noticeable since Facebook changed their algorithms so business pages are hardly ever seen unless you can pay for ads.
While I cannot claim to know how their approval system works, it would seem that their algorithm ok’d it as there was nothing offensive in the ad, and a few days later, someone manually switched it off. As much as I would love to see Facebook make meaningful changes to their ad approval system, I have lost hope that they will. However I haven’t lost hope in people and their ability to promote change, especially here in Ireland.
Cancer has been a recurring theme in my life, and will sadly touch the lives of pretty much everyone at some point, whether it happens to you or a loved one. If you, like me, are a proud cervix owner between the ages of 25-60, please check if you’re due for a screening at CervicalCheck.ie and book one for free with your GP if you are. And of course be sure to encourage other cervix owners in your life to do the same! Thank you!