- SexTech startups Dame Products and Unbound protested outside of Facebook’s New York office.
- The women’s wellness companies say Facebook has not allowed them to run ads for their products on Facebook or Instagram.
- The protest aligns with the launch of Dame and Unbound’s joint website, Approved—Not Approved, which shows ads that have been approved or denied by Facebook, Instagram, and metro systems in New York and Boston.
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SexTech startups Dame Products and Unbound protested against ad censorship outside of Facebook’s New York office on Monday morning.
The CEOs of both women’s wellness companies, which sell products like vibrators, say that Facebook has not allowed them to run ads for their products on Facebook or Instagram.
The protest aligns with the launch of Dame and Unbound’s joint website, Approved—Not Approved, which shows ads that have been approved or denied by Facebook, Instagram, and metro systems in New York and Boston. The site currently showcases approved ads for breast augmentation and erectile dysfunction medication, while Dame and Unboud’s advertisements for their vibrators were not approved by the New York Metropolitan Transportation (MTA) or Facebook.
Dame CEO Alexandra Fine knows she’s found an audience for Dame’s products, but says that Facebook’s gender bias has prevented her from running ads, which would aid the success of her business.
"We’ve proven that people are interested in what we’ve created, yet this third variable, these advertising platforms … have impacted the business. They have a bias towards sexuality in general, and then more specifically to female sexuality," Fine said about Facebook.
Unbound CEO Polly Rodriguez said the goal of Monday’s protest is to get Facebook to update its current advertising policies that leave Dame and Unbound unapproved.
"MeToo took place in a big way on their platform," Rodriguez said of Facebook. "They have a moral responsibility to take action on that movement and figure out how they can team with voices in these communities to allow users to engage in the counter narrative."
Section eight of Facebook’s advertising policy states that "Ads must not promote the sale or use of adult products or services, except for ads for family planning and contraception." And even then, "Ads for contraceptives must focus on the contraceptive features of the product, and not on sexual pleasure or sexual enhancement, and must be targeted to people 18 years or older."
"We have had open lines of communication with both companies and are always taking feedback," a Facebook spokesperson told Business Insider about Dame and Unbound. "We are working to further clarify our policies in this space in the near future."
Mira Mariah — an advocate for queer and disabled womxn who is known for her sparkly, womxn-centric tattoo designs (she’s Ariana Grande’s go-to tattoo artist) — planned to join the protest.
"These are products I feel are normal and safe and healthy, and I want women to have access to them. I don’t see why we should be suppressed about these kinds of things," Mariah said to Business Insider.
"As a really healthy reminder: not all people with vaginas are women, and these products are not only applicable to women, and can be pleasurable to tons of people," Mariah added. "It’s reproductive health and sexual health for everybody."
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