Road 96 Facebook ad blocked for being too political
The developer behind indie game Road 96 says Facebook rejected an advertisement for the game, claiming it was too political.
In case you hadn’t heard of it before, Road 96 is an upcoming indie game from Digixart, where you embark on a procedurally generated road trip to try and cross the border and escape from a fictional, authoritarian nation.
With the game out in only a couple of weeks’ time, Digixart naturally sought to advertise it through social media. However, according to creative director Yoan Fanise, a proposed Facebook ad was quickly rejected by the platform for violating its policy for advertisements.
Speaking with Axios, Fanise explains that the submission sent by the ad agency he works with was rejected within hours and a follow-up email said ‘Some of your ads don’t comply with our Advertising Policy for social issues, electoral or political ads.’
While it didn’t specify exactly what got the ad rejected, it did say that it may have been because it contained real world political figures, mentions of elections, or ‘images, statements or slogans about social issues, such as the economy, environmental policy, or civil and social rights.’
Axios has shared the ad in question and, at a first glance, it doesn’t appear to contain anything the email mentioned. It simply depicts a shot of the open road at sunset with the caption ‘Reach the border.’
It is most likely this caption that led to the ad’s rejection as it brings to mind crossing the border between the US and Mexico, which is obviously a controversial political issue in the US. It’s possible Facebook was concerned that the ad could be misconstrued as promoting the act of crossing the border.
Neither of the countries in the game are real but they’re clearly based on the US and Mexico, including a right wing American politician that appears to be at least partially inspired by Donald Trump.
Fanise was told he could either edit the ad or receive authorisation to run political ads, but he chose not to respond. He says that the decision raises concerns about freedom of expressions and questions whether Facebook is capable of automatically screening text on images, ‘This is a robot checking in advance what you’re going to do and decide for you, no you’re not going to do that.’
Facebook has yet to provide a comment about the situation , but its own policy does read ‘Our enforcement isn’t perfect, and both machines and people make mistakes.’
Ironically enough, the news that Facebook wouldn’t allow an advert for Road 96 appears to have acted as an advertisement in and of itself, with discussion of the game blowing up on social media in the last few hours.
It’s also been pointed out that, while Road 96 certainly has political themes, Facebook allows other politically charged games to advertise on the platform with little issue, such as Call Of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.
Road 96 releases on August 16 for Nintendo Switch and PC.
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