The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police wanted more people to know about hero East Peoria Officer Jeffrey Bieber, so it planned to pay Facebook extra for a “boost” in distribution of its post, according to a report.
But the social networking giant rejected the police group’s request, citing “sensitive social issues” connected with the ad that could spark controversy, the Journal Star of Peoria reported.
Ed Wojcicki, executive director of the police group, told the newspaper he couldn’t believe Facebook would reject a tribute to a police officer.
“The way we see it is, Facebook thinks it’s wrong to honor a brave police officer who suffered serious wounds while protecting his central Illinois city. How is that remotely political?” Wojcicki asked, according to the Journal Star.
“Facebook thinks it’s wrong to honor a brave police officer who suffered serious wounds while protecting his central Illinois city. How is that remotely political?”
— Ed Wojcicki, Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police
Back in February, Officer Bieber managed to fatally shoot an assailant despite having been stabbed by the suspect multiple times during a traffic stop, the newspaper reported.
The police group in July named Bieber its officer of the year and posted an announcement on Facebook, only to receive the following response from the company after trying to “boost” the post’s distribution:
“This ad content has been correctly disapproved for violation of Facebook Advertising Policies and Guidelines,” Facebook wrote in a message to the police group. “As per policy: Your ad may have been rejected because it mentions politicians or is about sensitive social issues that could influence public opinion, how people vote and may impact the outcome of an election or pending legislation.
“Our policy for running ads related to politics requires you to get authorized first by confirming your identity and creating a disclaimer that lists who is paying for the ads,” the response from Facebook continued.
But Wojcicki said Facebook’s response made no sense to him.
“Our press release mentioned no politicians and has nothing to do with any election or pending legislation,” he said. “For Facebook to suggest that seems like a huge stretch and could be a signal that it wants to block good news about police.”
The police group launched a petition on Change.org to try to convince Facebook to reverse its ruling, the Journal Star reported.
Facebook and operators of other social media platforms have claimed to be policing content more closely in response to complaints that they have allowed misinformation to flourish online.
In response to the Journal Star, a Facebook statement suggested the police group may have applied for the ad “boost” incorrectly, so the company has “reached out directly to the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police to explain how to run this type of ad.”