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Sex tech startups protest outside Facebook over banning of ads

Sex toy purveyor Dame Products says the social network's policies prevent the companies from "connecting people to valuable solutions."

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The protestors brought posters showing rejected ads. 

Dame Products/Unbound

Supporters, founders and employees of sex tech and women's wellness startups like Dame Products and Unbound Babes assembled outside Facebook's New York office Wednesday. The crowd protested the social media site's policies, which don't let the companies run ads for their products. 

Polly Rodriguez, CEO and co-founder of Unbound Babes, told CNET the event had a turnout of 40 to 50 founders, activists and educators.

"Our goal was to raise awareness ... and I feel pretty strongly we did just that," Rodriguez said in an emailed statement.

Alexandra Fine, CEO and co-founder of Dame Products, added that the inability to advertise "created a great deal of drag on our mission."

"Advertising is a necessary and important part of connecting people to valuable solutions," she said Wednesday. "There are millions of people who stand to improve their lives with our products, and they will have no idea we exist until we're allowed to make contact with them. This doesn't just impact a few businesses -- it impacts the health and happiness of everyone who has sex."

The protests were along the lines of the Approved, Not Approved website that the two startups launched earlier this month. Approved, Not Approved is a game that lets you guess whether an advertisement was OK'd for public consumption. 

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Dame Products / Unbound

In June, Dame Products also sued the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority for rejecting its ads for vibrators. 

The sex tech protest isn't the first protest Facebook's New York office has seen. In June, dozens of anticensorship activists shed their clothes to protest the social media site's nudity rules. In the wake of the protest, Facebook began talks with the activists over a compromise.

The social media site appears to be taking the same approach this time.

"We have had open lines of communication with both companies about our policies and are always taking feedback. We are working to further clarify our policies in this space in the near future," a Facebook spokesperson said in an email. 

Facebook also pointed out its advertising policy that refers to adult products and services. The policy says ads can't promote any adult products and services apart from family planning and contraception. In the case of contraceptives, the ad must focus on the "contraceptive features" of the product and not "sexual pleasure or sexual enhancement." The ad also has to be targeted to users 18 years or older.

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