Does Facebook have double standards against women-centric startups? That’s the question after companies like Pulse and Genneve selling products for women going through menopause were rejected but erectile dysfunction ads were allowed
Facebook is in the middle of controversy yet again after rejecting ads targeting women with menopause but allowing ads for erectile dysfunction products. Unsurprisingly, Facebook is now being accused of having double standards.
The story was first reported by CNBC after startups like Pulse, which offers a lubricant for women going through menopause, saw their ads being rejected by the platform. Other businesses having seen their ads banned include female sexual health startups Genneve and Unbound. However, male focused brands such as Roman and Hims peddling products to help men suffering from premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction have been accepted by the social media platform.
Interestingly, there seems to be a disparity with the kind of language that is deemed acceptable for male-centric products and for ones targeting women. For instance, Pulse has had its ads removed despite being careful in choosing their words. In October 2017, an ad that said “Doctor, what’s happening to me?” with a link to an article about perimenopause, the period before menopause begins, was taken down. Comparatively, Roman and Hims’ usage of “premature ejaculation” or “E.D.”, which is short for erectile dysfunction, were allowed.
Speaking with CNBC, a Facebook spokesperson stated that the removal of the advertisement had to do with the platform’s guidelines. “All ads are equally subject to our advertising policies, which are stricter than our community standards,” the spokesperson said. “Facebook has long had a policy that limits ads with adult content and adult products in part because we take into account the wide array of people from varying cultures and countries who see them. We continue to review these specific ads.”
Polly Rodriguez, CEO of Unbound, told CNBC these rejections are making it difficult for the company to be successful. “It’s so messed up,” she said. “Facebook sends us emails asking us to advertise, so then we go and try to and we get rejected. Not being able to advertise is the most hindering, crippling component to running this business.”
Indeed, this isn’t the first time women focused startups have faced problems. As we’ve previously reported, female founders have a difficult time being taken seriously in general but even more so when their business focuses on sex or sexual health. Often, they even struggle to get funding because investors, who are usually men, fail to understand what female-centric products are for and therefore if there is a demand.
Clearly, there still seems to be a lot of work to be done before opportunities for male and female founders and their companies are truly equal.