A small online business that sells patriotic clothing was permanently banned from Facebook for seemingly no reason at all other than for being simply, well, patriotic.
According to conservative media outlet TheBlaze, LeeAnn Miller, founder and owner of the company PatrioticMe, still has no explanation from Facebook as to why they suspended her company’s account right after the November presidential election. Miller noted that she made sure from the very inception of her company that the clothing would remain non-partisan.
PatrioticMe sells a variety of clothing and accessories embellished with various patriotic themes including the American flag, color schemes of red, white, and blue, or an outline of the United States. Launched on September 11, 2020 to honor the fallen heroes of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, PatrioticMe generously donates a portion of every sale to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
In partnership with business development firm Quantify, Miller advertised the products on Facebook. Each advertisement was in the form of a Facebook post with text that preceded a picture of a model sporting an article of PatrioticMe’s apparel. The text in one of the posts read very simply:
Loving your country shouldn't be hidden. Check out our new line of long sleeve shirts! We have an attractive range of patriotic clothes to show that love off! 10% off on your order for a limited time! Every time you purchase, We donate a portion of it to the tunnel to the tower foundation.
Her first email from Facebook was received on November 4th, the day after the election. The subject line of the email stated, “Ad Account Disabled for Policy Violation.”
The body of the email read: "It appears your ad account was used to create one or more ads that don't comply with our Advertising Policies or other standards. Our policies and standards help keep Facebook safe and welcoming for everyone. We use either technology or a review team to remove anything that doesn't comply with our policies or standards as quickly as possible.”
The email failed to specify exactly which policies Miller’s advertisements had violated, but rather sent her a link to the social media platform’s ad policies.
Additionally, the email provided Miller with two options to choose from. She could either take a course called “Ad Policies for Content, Creative, and Targeting,” or request a review of her account.
That same day Miller reached out to Facebook requesting a review thinking that her account was disabled in error. A second email was received identical to the first.
After asking for a third review of her page, and never being able to speak to someone in person, Facebook sent a final email on November 24th notifying Miller that her account was restricted. The noticed read, "All ad accounts are evaluated for policy compliance and quality of ad content. Due to your ad account consistently promoting ads that don't comply with our Advertising Policies or other standards, the ad account has been disabled.”
Facebook’s decision to disable PatrioticMe’s account has cost the company 94% of their traffic.
TheBlaze engaged in its own review of Miller’s advertisements and couldn’t find any content that violated Facebook’s policies. They also reached out to Facebook and had not received word back from the platform since their article was published early Tuesday afternoon.
When asked why she thought her account was suspended Miller responded, "I have to believe that in the current climate they were taken down because a lot of people think patriotism is bad. A lot of people think the American flag scares people. It's really hard for me to understand, but the only thing I really have to go on is what that first email said, that I violated the policy of, you know, Facebook providing a safe and welcoming environment.”
She also mentioned, “to me, that's absurd, that anybody in this country, even people that immigrate here, they come here for what that flag stands for: freedom and prosperity, and everything that that flag has to offer, and that's what that flag represents to me anyway. And it's really hard for me to imagine that it scares people or makes people feel unwelcome."
She plans on continuing her work with Quantify to find new avenues for advertising outside of Facebook, but still wants to know why she was banned.
One can only speculate as to why a retailer would be shut down on Facebook for simply selling non-partisan, pro-American apparel, but I think LeeAnn Miller hit the nail on the head. Especially being notified of violating the leftist platform’s policies the day after an election – is that not sketchy?
Again, we can only speculate what led to the retailer’s ban on Facebook until an answer is received, but whether it was a platform user, an algorithm, or a human at Facebook that flagged the ads – someone isn’t a fan of America and the fix is in to target pro-American pages.