Road 96 blocked Facebook ads because they were too political
No policy in ads for games? Well, Ubisoft then has nothing to fear (Image: Digixart via Steam)
The developer of the indie game Road 96 says Facebook turned down an advertisement for the game, claiming it was too political.
In case you’ve never heard of it, Road 96 is an upcoming indie game from Digixart where you’ll take a procedurally generated road trip to try to cross the border and escape a fictional, authoritarian nation.
Naturally, with the game coming out in just a few weeks, Digixart tried to promote it through social media. However, according to creative director Yoan Fanise, a planned Facebook advertisement was quickly rejected by the platform because it violated its advertising guidelines.
Speaking to Axios, Fanise explains that the submission sent by the advertising agency he works with was rejected within hours and a follow-up email read: “Some of your ads do not meet our policy on social issues, election or political advertising . ‘
While the ad wasn’t exactly stated why the ad was disapproved, it could be because it contained real political figures, mentions of elections, or “pictures, statements or slogans on social issues such as the economy, the environment,” politics or civil and social rights . ‘
Axios shared the ad in question and, at first glance, doesn’t seem to have anything in the mentioned email. It simply shows a shot of the open road at sunset, entitled “Reach the Limit”.
No specific reason was given why this couldn’t be shared on Facebook (Image: Digixart via Axios)
It is most likely this caption that led to the ad being disapproved as it evokes the US-Mexico border crossing, which is obviously a controversial political issue in the US. It is possible that Facebook feared that the ad could be misinterpreted as an advertisement for crossing the border.
None of the countries in the game are real, but they are clearly based on the US and Mexico, including a right-wing American politician who appears to be at least partially inspired by Donald Trump.
Fanise was told he could either edit the ad or get permission to run political ads, but he chose not to respond. He says the decision raises concerns about freedom of expression and whether Facebook is able to automatically check text on images to do so. ‘
Facebook has not yet commented on the situation, but its own policy is, “Our enforcement is not perfect and both machines and people make mistakes.”
Ironically, the news that Facebook would not allow an ad for Road 96 seems like an advertisement in itself as discussion of the game has exploded on social media in the past few hours.
It was also pointed out that while Road 96 certainly has political themes, Facebook allows other politically charged games to advertise on the platform with no issues, such as Call Of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.
Road 96 will be released on August 16 for Nintendo Switch and PC.
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