I got banned for life from advertising on Meta**. Because I teach Python

I got banned for life from advertising on Meta**. Because I teach Python

I’m a full-time Python and Pandas teacher, teach face-to-face courses at companies around the world (like Apple and Cisco), and work with an ever-growing number of online products, including video courses and paid newsletters with weekly Pandas exercises. Like many online entrepreneurs, I have experimented with many different products over the years, both free and paid. And like many online entrepreneurs, I’ve had both hit and miss products.

DALL-E: Panda and python in prison

A few years ago I decided to advertise some of my products on Facebook. I ran a bunch of ads, none of which were very successful, mostly because I didn’t put much effort into them. I decided to try other things and practically forgot about my ad account.

Just a year ago I thought maybe, just maybe, I should advertise on Facebook (now Meta**). I went to my ad page and was surprised to see that my account had been banned for advertising violations. I decided that this was strange, but did not go into details and occupied myself with other, more productive things.

Just a few months ago, I went back to my ad management page and again saw the message that I was not allowed to run ads because I had violated their rules. This time I did decide that I was going to study this issue further. I didn’t see any indication of what rules I was breaking, and I knew for sure that I was doing nothing but promoting Python and Pandas courses. I wasn’t quite sure what to do, but there was a button that said “Click here to appeal.” So I clicked on it, assuming someone from Meta** would turn to me and say, “Oops!”

Nope: about 30 minutes later I got an email from Meta** saying they had reviewed my case, I definitely violated their policy and now I banned for life advertising on the Meta** platform. Here is the letter I received:

A similar message indeed appeared when I went to my ad management page:

And sure enough, when I click on the Business Support Page, I get a truly terrifying message:

All this seemed quite strange to me. What could I have said or done that would have permanently restricted me? And is it possible to somehow get out of this situation?

I decided to reach out to my contacts on Facebook (where else?) to see if anyone had any ideas. I also reached out to LinkedIn, in case anyone has any solutions.

Good news? I immediately got a response from a friend on LinkedIn. He told me that he also had trouble promoting his Python training courses on Meta** platforms because — guess what — Meta** decided he was trading live animals, which is illegal.

That’s right: I teach Python and Pandas courses. And it doesn’t matter that the first is a programming language, and the second is a library for data analysis in Python. The Meta** AI system noticed that I was talking about Python and Pandas, assumed I was talking about animals (not technology), and banned me. The appeal I submitted was not reviewed by a human, but was reviewed by another bot who (unsurprisingly) gave a similar rating.

As I said, this was good news. And what’s the bad news?

I have been working in the computer industry for a long time and have many contacts. Three friends who worked at Meta** (two current, one former) suggested I check it out.

The first friend looked into it and found that nothing could be done. That’s because Meta** only has a 180 day data retention policy, and since my account was locked over a year before I asked people to look into it, all evidence is now gone. This means that my ad account cannot be recovered.

I’m not a big believer in doing nothing, especially when it comes to companies and software that are built and run by people. But this friend seems to have convinced me, so I moved on to the second one. He did not advance further. And the third friend? It seems that he did not make any progress either.

The bottom line is that II Meta** made a big mistake. (You can bet I’ll be using this example when I teach machine learning courses.) The fact that both the original decision and the appeal were filed by AI is pretty silly.

But even more absurd is the fact that since I didn’t respond to their ban within a certain period of time, I now have no way to undo it. This means that when I start promoting my courses again – and I actually plan to do so soon – Meta** won’t see my money, while companies like Google who seem to be hiring at least people their advertising department will.

** Meta is a prohibited organization on the territory of the Russian Federation

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