Let’s end Sexual Wellness Censorship and Gender Inequality on Social Media

Published: Thursday, Oct 22

ex toy start-up Biird today launches a Change.org petition calling for the end of sexual wellness censorship and gender inequality on social media

Supported by advertising and sextech giant Cindy Gallop and sexual wellness experts Dr Logan Levkoff and The Center for Intimacy Justice, the petition calls on Facebook to change its policies to allow the promotion of sexual wellness information and products to appropriately aged adults, in a similar way that alcohol brands target specific age groups.

To help educate policy makers and enforcers, Biird has also launched an educational hub that is aimed at helping social media platforms understand why these restrictive rules cause major issues for the industry as they often censor pages and accounts that promote a healthy understanding of female and LGBT+ sexuality and sexual health in general. The hub includes recommended policy changes, informative articles, a quiz, educational content from industry experts as well as a place for people to share their experiences of censorship.

Facebook, who owns Instagram, has several policies that impact on sexual wellness content. One rule states that “Adverts must not promote the sale or use of adult products or services, unless they promote family planning and contraception*”. A broad rule open to interpretation. Condoms and erectile dysfunction products fall within this category and are often promoted while female wellness products like vibrators which promote sexual health are banned.

Example imagery that ha been approved and rejected

What the experts say

“We know the restrictions our industry faces but that doesn’t mean we accept them. Currently our Facebook page has been blocked and we are not allowed to promote any of our posts on Instagram as it is deemed inappropriate. Viagra on the other hand promotes its posts regularly and many condom companies use phallic imagery to communicate the benefits of their products, yet sexual wellness products such as vibrators are completely banned.

This petition and hub highlight how favouring male products like viagra is not only wrong, but also impacts the industry and its ability to grow, all while preventing access to educational content on female sexual issues. We are asking all sexual wellness companies to join us and show their support. Sign the petition and demand Facebook equal the playing field.”

Evi, Co-founder of Biird

“Sexual pleasure is vital to both our sexual and our overall health. Using sex toys is not only common, but people who use vibrators are more likely to see a medical provider and have better sexual function. Sexual pleasure is neither gratuitous nor unnecessary. Lack of advertising in the sexual health and wellness space prevents people (regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disabilities, or relationship status) from the getting the information and services they need, as well as creates a culture of shame around sex. Shame has never been good for our emotional or intimate lives. We can (and should) do better.”

Dr. Logan Levkoff, thought leader in the field of human sexuality and personal relationships

In addition to restrictions impairing education, the rules also bring financial ramifications for start-ups inhibiting their ability to grow and increase their value.

Every investor and venture capitalist should be joining and supporting this campaign. Erectile dysfunction solution platforms Roman and Hims both launched in 2017. Each has consistently raised huge amounts of money from male venture capitalists (Roman $376 million, Hims $297 million) taking both to unicorn valuations (Roman $1.5 billion, Hims $1 billion) in just three years – because they were able to spend huge amounts of money on advertising to grow.

Advertising platforms are shooting themselves in the foot with gender-biased sextech bans. The ability for female-founded sexual health and wellness brands to advertise and therefore to scale, unlocks the ability to raise serious funding from venture capitalists  and investors in search of unicorns, which in turn guarantees serious revenue for those platforms. There’s a huge amount of money to be made out of taking women seriously – especially when it comes to sex.”

Cindy Gallop, advertising expert, and founder and CEO of Make Love, Not Porn

More examples

Below you’ll find a few more examples of adverts that have been approved or rejected by Facebook/Instagram. It’s plain to see the inequality in these ads and we agree with Biird in saying this needs to change!

Approved

Rejected

Approved

Rejected

The campaign comes as a result of the unfair restrictions Biird faced when they brought their first product, Red Dot Award winning clitoral stimulator Obii to the market earlier this year.

We totally stand by Biird and this campaign and have both signed the petition. It’s crazy to see how biased the approval and rejection process is with Facebook/Instagram Adverts. With adverts being so targeted it wouldn’t be hard for them to ensure adult products are being directed to those who would actually be interested. 

What you can do

Get the petition signed by clicking the button below. You can also find out more information behind the campaign here.

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