Happy Pride!

A Saga of Search Engine and Social Media Advertising Nightmares: Launching Lippy Hippy

Photo of greeting cards getting ready to be mailed out.

In November 2020 we finally got down to it and decided to soft-launch this little shop. Our intention was to sell some of my designs printed on clothing and cards while raising a bit of money for some causes near and dear to us.

So who are we?

I am Chelsea Bell Eady (she/her). I am an unassuming communication designer providing design services to various clients in health and community. Brit (she/they) is my right-hand man, so to speak; she deals with the aspects of my businesses that would otherwise get ignored while I work on my clients' projects. If you have ever chatted with @shoplippyhippy on IG or Facebook, you have most likely gotten some lip from Brit. She is pretty cheeky, but that's why we love them.

So why did we team up to slay the patriarchy with feminist merch? Well, we couldn't help ourselves.

As two women who have experienced the intersectionalities of gender, disability, and class, we have come to realize that the only solution is to battle misogyny in our work and play. We also acknowledge as white-appearing individuals, we experience privileges that many of our feminist compatriots do not.

So what does this have to do with search engines and social media?

In a word: Everything. But let's rewind and give you a broader view.

Once upon a time: in a post about #metoo and r*pe culture, Brit posted a comment on FB about how men had to hold each other accountable. She used an infamous phrase that has gotten various people restricted and banned on social. Since then, she has been put in FB timeout for increasingly longer bans for comments that challenge the patriarchal status quo. (She is currently on a 30 day ban.) She has also reported r*pe threats in comment threads in the wake of assault survivors coming forwards, and has been told by FB that the comments aren't against FBs 'Community Guidelines'. What community do these guidelines serve, one may ask?

I am more circumspect in my dealing on social media, and don't often engage with 'sensitive' topics through commenting, though I will report racist, homophobic, transphobic, sexist, and threatening comments. I have never had a comment taken down that I have reported. One of the reasons that I don't engage on this level is that I have worried about having my work impacted and the safety of my children. I am very cognizant of my appearance in the world as a disabled female designer, and do not want to put myself or my family in harms way.

Let's fast-forward to now.

Screen capture of vague automated email from Google - one of many.Screen capture of Google account setup approval

We have been running this shop since November 1, 2020. We both have small but dedicated social media communities. It took about a month to get the shop up and running, with all of our other commitments to client work. Knowing how important it is to engage with like minded individuals and groups on social media and through search results, I set up ad accounts with both FB and G*ogle. Our shop, which sells intersectional feminist themed greeting cards, mugs, and clothes, was immediately rejected by G*ogle for 'misrepresentation'.

We have met every requirement that they have according to their documentation, as well as according to our friends at Shopify, and in spite of numerous (10+) support requests to G*ogle, we have been entered into the 6th circle of automated email hell. Apparently, 'due to covid', the most advanced search engine and advertising platform on the internet cannot provide any thing but a canned, nonsensical email. They also cannot provide a way to contact them to resolve the dispute, which I understand to be in contravention of their own terms of use as a merchant. There's a link to contact them in their email via chat... but it takes you back to the same email loop.

FB has its own set of tricks. The 'Unfestive Greetings' ads for the greeting card line was the first to be rejected. Apparently these cards were flagged for advertising "Social Issues, Elections, or Politics". These cards are not political - they are holiday greeting cards. We could only assume that there was an issue with calling ourselves feminists on the website.

Screen capture of Facebook ad rejection

We were temporarily able to publish a few ads through Kit, Shopify's marketing app, but since then have seen a constant stream of ad rejections. What could the reasoning be? Well, according to FB, we are somehow advertising tobacco, smoking, or smoking paraphernalia. Hmmmm. This comes as a surprise to the two non-smokers running this shop. Nary a hookah pipe for sale or displayed.

Maybe it's just that we're smokin' hot? 

FB, much like G*ogle, have made it impossible to contact them. They have this circular hellhole of a help section that includes the words "Contact Support", but alas, they are words. Not links. So no contacting support, I guess. I have attempted to contact them on FB through the official FB Business page, which is also automated. No luck. The FB Business Manager. Nope. The Commerce Manager. Nada.

I suspect that, for whatever reason, feminism is now on the virtual no-fly list on the internet. Pretty ironic then that you can storm the US capital but you can't talk about dismantling the patriarchy. It's also very telling that neither of these internet megaliths will take responsibility for their irresponsible behaviour, and own up to being oppressive, anti-feminist, anti-humanity, misogynistic bastards.

FB and G*ogle: by all means, prove us wrong. 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published