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Facebook Rejects Onion Ad for Very Unexpected Reason

Algorithm deemed innocent ad 'overtly sexual'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 8, 2020 4:36 PM CDT

(Newser) – A Canadian company trying to sell onion seeds was surprised to find that Facebook rejected its ad. The bigger surprise came over the reason: Facebook declared that the accompanying image was "overtly sexual," reports the BBC. However, no scantily clad model was involved. Instead the ad showed whole onions in a basket, along with sliced onions in front, per cp24 (where you can see the image). Jackson McLean of Newfoundland's Gaze Seed Co. explains that "there was something about the round shapes being next to each other that set off some trigger."

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In other words, the Facebook algorithm saw something risque in a perfectly innocent basket of onions. The company appealed the error, and Facebook did a quick about-face—with a sense of humor. "We use automated technology to keep nudity off our apps, but sometimes it doesn't know a Walla Walla onion from a, well, you know," says a statement from Facebook Canada's head of communications, Meg Sinclair. "We restored the ad and are sorry for the business's trouble." (Read more onions stories.)

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