Peterborough business bemused after vegetable ‘face’ sees Facebook reject ad for sale of animals

A Peterborough business has been left bemused after a ‘face’among a box of vegetables saw their Facebook advert banned for breaching the site’s rules.

Monday, 28th June 2021, 4:55 am
The box of vegetables to feature in the advert.
The box of vegetables to feature in the advert.

PYO Fruit and Veg Bags was set up at the start of the pandemic last year by Nathaniel Humphreys.

He now splits his time between the business and the job he held before the pandemic in charity fundraising. The day-to-day running is largely handled by co-owner Simon Hill, his daughter Abby and close friend and business associate James Stamp.

During lockdown, they were mostly delivering to vulnerable households in the Peterborough and Fenland area and have since set up market stools in March and Holbeach and have significantly developed the home delivery section of the business well into Peterborough, also establishing a base in Yaxley.

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All of their produce is organically produced and locally sourced where possible but they do also buy from large wholesale markets such as Spitalfields in London.

In order to help the business grow, James decided to start a Facebook advertising campaign photographed one of the business’s customisable vegetable boxes to give people a look at what they could order. He was shocked, however, to find that he received a message back from Facebook telling him that the advert had been rejected due to it breaching the site’s rules on the sale of animals.

Assuming it was a mistake made by a computer program, rather than an actual person looking at the image, he immediately appealed but that was also rejected.

James says he has no further grounds for appeal and believes that the problem has been caused by the positioning of two carrots and a cauliflower, that resemble a face that has fooled the automated technology.

The rejection message from Facebook.

He said: “We were really keen to get the message out to the people of Peterborough to let them know that we are here and about our range of between 140 and 150 products.

“I filled one of our boxes with our produce, to show off to people what we offer but was dumbfounded when the advert was sent back for breaching Facebook’s rules.

“I had a look again at the picture and if you look closely, the ends of the carrots and the cauliflower do make a face and it looks like whichever recognition software they are using must have picked it up.

“I thought it seemed pretty obvious that an actual human hadn’t looked at it and assumed that would happen at the appeal stage. I think it’s very odd they don’t seem to have a better appeals process.”

PYO has now chosen to explore other avenues of advertising.

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