Facebook bans Google+ ad

An app developer places an ad on Facebook asking people to friend him on Google+. Facebook removes the ad and claims it is against its terms of service.

Ingenuity is surely something to be admired. Commercial ingenuity is something to be revered.

Sometimes, though, it seems that certain tech companies only revere their own ingenuity. That seems to be the case with Facebook, which, as reported by TechCrunch's Erick Schonfeld, has removed a piece of fine commercial ingenuity from its site.

App developer Michael Lee Johnson, conscious of the need to be big on Google+ or be nobody, wondered what the best way to levitate his Google+ circles might be. He hit upon a fine idea: he placed an ad on Facebook. It was a simple thing that was headlined: "Add Michael to Google+."

The copy read: "If you're lucky enough to have a Google+ account, add Michael Lee Johnson, Internet Geek, App Developer, Technological Virtuoso."

If those words weren't enough to persuade Facebook users that Johnson was a must for their Google+, he added a fine picture of himself wearing a jaunty cap.

The offending ad Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

You're not guessing what happened with the ad, are you? You know what happened, don't you? Facebook didn't, according to Johnson, merely erase this heinous horse of Troy from its pages. It reportedly banned all his other campaigns too.

The message he received read as follows: "Your account has been disabled. All of your adverts have been stopped and should not be run again on the site under any circumstances. Generally, we disable an account if too many of its adverts violate our Terms of Use or Advertising guidelines. Unfortunately we cannot provide you with the specific violations that have been deemed abusive. Please review our Terms of Use and Advertising guidelines if you have any further questions."

Because my life's purpose is to be helpful, I scanned Facebook's Terms of Use and Advertising just to see what specific clause might have been besmirched by Johnson's chutzpah.

Perhaps it was Clause 11 in the "Special Provisions Applicable to Advertisers" section: "You will not issue any press release or make public statements about your relationship with Facebook without written permission." Johnson had shamefully declared on Google+ that he was placing the ad.

Perhaps it was Clause 4d of Facebook's Advertising Guidelines: "Ads cannot insult, harass, or threaten a user." He was, some might say, harrassing and insulting Facebook loyalists by his mere suggestion that there might be another place to socially network.

Or perhaps Facebook, its nose feeling tweaked, merely decided to reach for 6a of the same Advertising Guidelines: "We may refuse ads at any time for any reason, including our determination that they promote competing products or services or negatively affect our business or relationship with our users."

Still, ejecting all of Johnson's campaigns seems a touch cruel. Perhaps Johnson will consider an action against Facebook for emotional distress and, well, damage to his reputation.

This he will have to place, so Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities tells me, in a court in Santa Clara County. For now, Johnson's only public statements have been: "LOL." Oh, and "Facebook. You Suck."

1,460 people currently have Johnson in their Google+ circles. I cannot find Google+'s No. 1 personality , Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, among them.

(Facebook did not respond to a request for comment by publication time.)

 

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