What to do if you get banned… And some preventative measures you can take if you have not been banned.
Over the last few months, I saw a lot of people posting on Facebook that their Facebook Ads accounts had been shut down. Here’s an example:
I wasn’t too worried by these posts. “They’re probably new advertisers selling affiliate products or something,” I thought. “That can’t happen to us.”
Facebook Ads has a number of policies in place to preserve the quality of user experiences on the platform. We always recommend that you do your best to follow Facebook Ads policies. However, following Facebook Ads policies is no guarantee that your account won’t be banned.
On Sunday, November 10, 2019, I logged into our Facebook Business Manager to an unwelcome surprise: our Business Manager had been banned for a “policy violation.”
I was shocked for a few reasons…
- We only work with legitimate businesses
- We try hard to follow Facebook policies
- You’d think that after spending significant sums of money on the platform, Facebook would at least try to talk with you before shutting you down.
Alas, that’s not how it works at Facebook Ads.
Not only did Facebook fail to tell us what “policy violation” had occurred, Facebook put the onus on us to explain why we should be allowed to advertise going forward.
I was quite dismayed to say the least.
In the end, we were able to get our Business Manager back, and we learned a few lessons along the way. Some people report that it took them 6-8 weeks to regain access. For us it was 16 days that felt like forever. I was so relieved to finally get this message from Facebook:
Why Are So Many FB Ad Accounts Getting Banned These Days?
I doubt that most of the bans we are seeing today were implemented by real people at Facebook making decisions about accounts. The bans don’t make any sense. Take my ban, for example. Why would somebody “incorrectly” disable my account without telling anybody the reason why?
It appears that Facebook has an algorithm making decisions to ban people.
Why is Facebook banning thousands of paying accounts from its platform at the whim of an algorithm?
I really don’t know, but I have a few guesses:
- The organization wants to deter real violations of policy by making people go through the shutdown process
- The organization is under regulatory or political pressure to prevent any ads that may be harmful to consumers, contain fake news, or discriminate in any way
- The organization wants to get rid of low-quality advertisers to improve user experience
In this blog post, I’ll discuss:
- How to contact Facebook Ads support
- How we drafted our appeals
- How to prevent Facebook Ad account shutdowns
How to Contact Facebook Ads Support
Buy a domain name from Godaddy for $10, and you’ll enjoy access to phone support. Open a Google Adwords account and, before you spend a dime, you’ll enjoy access to phone support.
Facebook, on the other hand, only grants businesses specialized support if they are spending somewhere in the realm of $2,000,000 per year on ads.
If you do not have access to phone support, you have to go to https://www.facebook.com/business/help, and click “Get Started” in the middle of the page:
However, if you are banned, using the usual channel for support will probably not work for you. In our case, we were directed to a simple page with this form:
We were only able to fill out this form once. Attempts to follow up simply didn’t work. Our efforts to get additional help through the ordinary Facebook support channel described above was met with chat messages from support reps referring us to the same form we had already filled out:
We did find that by going to our Facebook Support inbox, we could find our original submission and post follow-up messages. To find your Facebook Support inbox, go to https://www.facebook.com/support?
How We Drafted Our Appeals of the Business Manager Ban
The first thing to keep in mind when you are writing an appeal to Facebook customer support is that your appeal will be read by somebody sitting in an office far, far away from you. This person’s job is just to read appeals like yours every day, and decide what to do with them.
If you take a hostile, insulting, or defensive approach, you will hurt your chances of succeeding in the appeals process.
Before you write your appeal, look through Facebook Ads policies and see if you may have actually violated one. If you can’t figure out what you violated, there’s a good chance you didn’t actually violate anything. But you have to at least show Facebook you are concerned that maybe you did do something wrong and say you take full responsibility for it.
Next, think about how to tell the Facebook Ads support person the following:
- You’re really really really sorry and you’ll never do it again (even if you have no idea what “it” is).
- You take full responsibility for the situation.
- You are a normal, real, legitimate business and a normal, responsible business person using the platform.
- You care about the Facebook community.
- You spent time trying to address the issue, or you have a solution to address the issue (even if you don’t know what the issue is)
- You are appreciative of forthcoming help from Facebook Support
- A reason why it is urgent, from a business perspective, that your account be reinstated quickly
- A reason why it is urgent, from a personal perspective, that your account be reinstated quickly
Let’s put all of the above into a template you can adopt to your purposes.
Warning! Do not use my exact wording because other people may already have used it. FB is going to get awfully suspicious of you if it sees you using the same wording other people use. They probably have an algorithm to catch such things.
Here it goes…
My name is [Name] and I am the [job position] at [company name]. When I was informed that our [ad account/business manager/FB profile] was banned from advertising due to a policy violation, I was deeply concerned.
Take Full Responsibility:
I am so sorry for any infraction we may have caused and I take full responsibility for it. I care about making sure that Facebook is a safe and enjoyable platform for all users. My organization always strives to follow Facebook policies, but it is possible we made a mistake.
Explain Who You Are To Establish Legitimacy:
Our company, [company name], [provides service x or sells y products]. You can see our website at [url.com].
Explain How You Use the Platform
We use Facebook Ads to promote [x]. We have been using the platform for [x amount of time], and we have always strived to follow Facebook Ads policies.
You Tried Addressing The Issue
Upon receiving news of the ban, we immediately reviewed Facebook Ads’ policies to try and figure out what the violation might have been. [At this point, if you think you know what the violation was, explain what it is and how you will avoid doing so in the future. If you do not know what the violation is, explain that you are not sure what the violation is but you are very sorry and you will be happy to cooperate to make sure the matter is fixed at once.]
Reiterate Responsibility Taking and Apology
I am very sorry for any inconvenience or policy violations we may have caused and it is my top priority to make sure our organization is always in compliance with your policies going forward.
Business Reason Why a Quick Response is Needed
Our organization is planning to [do something in the near future that means you really need access back now].
Personal Reason Why a Quick Response is Needed
At a personal level, I feel stressed and worried because the ban on our Facebook advertising privileges deeply affects our organization. [Explain how… for example, “We employ x people, and Facebook Ads is the main source of revenue for our company. Without Facebook Ads, we cannot support our employees, and they will have to find another way to support their families.” Or, “I have a husband/wife and x kids, and I use Facebook Ads to pay the bills and put food on the table.”]
I am deeply appreciative of any help you can render to us to solve this problem quickly and I thank you in advance. I want to reiterate my sincerest apologies and my organization’s commitment to make sure that there are no policy issues in the future.
How to Prevent Facebook Ad Account Shutdowns
The first step to take to avoid shutdowns is to follow Facebook Ads policies! However, following their policies does not guarantee you won’t be shut down.
Also, try to make sure your credit card payments to Facebook always go through. If your card provider ever turns down a charge, remedy the situation immediately and pay down your balance. Our ban seems to have been triggered when a client wasn’t able to pay their bill.
Facebook has a hierarchy as to what it bans, in ascending order:
- Ad Account
- Business Manager
- You, personally (meaning it doesn’t matter what account or business manager you work on, you’re done for.)
Having backup accounts is a great idea because it means that if one ad account, business manager, or personal profile is banned, you can use your other existing accounts.
However, this is not a fool proof strategy.
In our situation, the ban started with our Business Manager. We started using another Business Manager account we’d created previously, which worked for one day. Then my personal profile got banned. I had to file two separate appeals: one for the Business Manager and one for myself, before I could advertise.
As we learned from our experience, having multiple accounts is not always enough to save you during a ban. It seems to me that Facebook’s algorithm caught me trying to continue advertising and responded by escalating the ban.
So, use your backup accounts only if you really must. There is a risk of making things worse. Of course, if you ultimately fail to get yourself reinstated, you may as well use your backup accounts.
One approach that worked for us was using an employee account to log into Business Manager and work on our ad accounts. Even when my personal profile was banned, the employee logins were not banned. We were able to successfully manage client ad accounts.
Here is a list of ideas you can try to reduce your vulnerability to bans:
- Follow Facebook’s policies!
- Have multiple Business Manager and Ad accounts.
- Have multiple (real) Facebook logins added as employees with full abilities to manage all accounts.
- If you have clients, make your clients create their own accounts, and then grant you access. That way, if they mess up their account by not paying on time, you are not affected as much. Also, a ban on your Business Manager or personal profile won’t shut down their account. As long as you have an employee who can access their account from a different Business Manager, you can keep managing them.
- Make sure all Facebook balances are paid on time. Quickly address any payments that don’t go through.
A final word: if your business is dependent on Facebook Ads, think of ways to diversify. We are seeing great results with other advertising platforms for ourselves and our clients, especially Google Adwords and Linkedin Ads.