Aid to the Church in Need
Case #
3211

Facebook restricts Catholic organization from advertising a petition to aid victims of sex slavery in the Middle East: Aid to the Church in Need UK (ACN UK) describes itself as a "Pontifical Foundation of the Catholic Church, supporting Catholic Faithful and other Christians where they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need." The organization ran its #RedWednesday 2021 campaign which advocated for effective action to help Christian women and girls affected by the prospect of abduction, sex trafficking or forced child marriage. ACN UK advertised its petition on Facebook until Facebook placed severe restrictions on its ads account. On November 10, Facebook restricted the account because "too many ads were hidden or reported for ad accounts associated with this business." Facebook placed 11 restrictions on the account including limiting the amount of money the organization could "spend per day across all ad campaigns," and disabling its ability to "create ads that direct to WhatsApp," according to a screenshot ACN UK sent CensorTrack. John Pontifex, the organization's Head of Press and Information, told CensorTrack how severely the campaign was affected by Facebook's ad restrictions. "ACN (UK)’s outreach on FB was reduced by a factor of 90 percent; FB imposed a daily cap of £18 on advertising spend. We had been spending £200 per day. This came about a week after we initiated a campaign inviting people to sign our petition. Before the ban, around 3,000 Facebook users a day saw the adverts garnering an average of 400 signatures every day – but with restraints in place only around 280 users saw the ad each day, and the average daily number of new signatures fell to barely 30." He said that Facebook reversed the restriction at some point between Christmas and New Year's Day, "but at no point did FB notify ACN of this development and ACN only discovered it by chance as a result of a random check on our account."

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