By Simon Sansome
In an astonishing recorded call from Facebook, listen below.
Ability Access is the UK’s largest disability page with over 12,000 followers and often goes viral. This week is no exception, with reaching an audience of over 5 million people and 1.5 million interactions.
Earlier this week, Ability Access, was blocked from inviting people to like the page after getting over 3000 new likes.
Scheduling a call with Facebook Marketing Team to resolve this issue, we asked why we had been blocked and their reply is shocking and possibly discriminatory.
In a recorded conversation the operator who is a marketing expert at Facebook said: “You will have to understand that some people see disability as disturbing, you will have to think about it like that”.
The operator then went on to say “I have never come across a page that promotes disability”.
Simon – “So, to promote my page, I need to go through customer service again, because I have been banned from promoting my page on disability”.
Operator “Yes, yes”.
Ability Access was set up in 2016 to get people talking about disability in the UK. It is a well-known platform in the UK in the disabled community and used by multiple organisation to promote disability charities, community events and is seen as a social hub in the disabled community.
As a disabled journalist I could not believe what was happening, when I say in the conversation, I had to leave the room I reached for my zoom (a recording device used by journalists) and was waiting for it to load up.
What happed in this conversation was just shocking and quite sad, for the disabled community as millions of people with disabilities use Facebook as their main communication tool and to have an employee to say “You will have to understand that some people see disability as disturbing, you will have to think about it like that” and to find out we have been blocked from inviting people to the page takes away a person’s freedom of speech.
Ability Access will be contacting Facebook for a comment on this story and will update readers on the reply.
A Facebook spokesperson have said: “We apologies profusely to Simon Sansome and the Ability Access community that they had this experience, and wanted to take the time to help explain why this happened. What Mr. Sansome was told is incorrect and should not have been said. The advert in question was not rejected for featuring disturbing content. It was, however, rejected for depicting adult content as there is a partially covered topless female in the video. If Mr. Sansome is able to remove this particular image from the video, the advert would be approved and allowed to run.
“We are investigating what happened here and will provide additional training to the team that spoke with Mr. Sansome. This community, like many other Groups and Pages for disability in the UK, is doing great work and we’re proud that they are using Facebook to reach people.” – Facebook spokesperson.
The picture in question is the image of Vicky Balch, who was the victim of the Alton Towers accident in 2015, she lost her leg.
For me this is an empowering photo and published on Ability Access on the 1stFeb 2017. The photo shoot was for Vicky to build herself confidence and was published in many UK newspapers and posted over social media. Facebook have advised that if I take this image down, they will allow me to invite people to the page.
I would like to inform Facebook; I have no intention of removing this image as it is a picture of a wonderful brave woman showing off her disability.