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What Products Are Not Allowed on Facebook Ads?

Thinking about advertising your products on Facebook? It’s a smart move. With over 3 billion monthly active users, Facebook is one of the best places to reach your target audience and drive sales.

But before you start creating Facebook ads, there’s something important you need to know: not all products are allowed on the platform.

Facebook has strict advertising policies in place to protect its users and maintain a positive experience. These policies prohibit certain types of products, services, and content from being promoted on the platform.

If you try to run ads for any of these banned items, your ads will be rejected and your account could even be suspended.

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So what exactly can’t you advertise on Facebook? The list is quite extensive and covers everything from weapons to adult products to misleading health claims.

In this article, we’ll break down the main categories of prohibited products and give you actionable tips for ensuring your ads comply with Facebook’s policies.

By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of what you can and can’t promote on the platform.

Let’s get started.

what products are not allowed on facebook ads

Prohibited Product Categories

Facebook’s advertising policies are designed to create a safe and trustworthy environment for its users. As such, the platform bans a wide range of products and services that could be harmful, offensive, or misleading.

Here are the main categories of prohibited items:

1. Illegal Products and Services

Let’s start with the most obvious category: illegal products and services. Facebook does not allow ads promoting anything that’s illegal, including:

  • Drugs and drug-related products (e.g. cannabis, cocaine, heroin)
  • Drug paraphernalia (e.g. bongs, pipes, vaporisers) 
  • Counterfeit documents (e.g. fake IDs, passports, diplomas)
  • Counterfeit money or currency 
  • Counterfeit or pirated goods
  • Services to artificially inflate web or ad traffic
  • Illegal gambling or betting

While some of these items, like marijuana, may be legal in certain regions, they are still not allowed in Facebook ads globally. So even if you operate in a place where cannabis is legal, you won’t be able to promote it on the platform.

It’s also important to note that Facebook’s policies around drugs and drug-related products are quite strict. The platform bans any content that encourages or promotes drug use, even if it’s educational or news-related.

So if you’re in the cannabis industry or sell products like CBD oil, you’ll need to be very careful about how you frame your ad content.

2. Weapons, Ammunition, and Explosives

Next up on the prohibited list is weapons, ammunition, and explosives. Facebook does not allow ads for any of the following:

  • Firearms and firearm parts
  • Ammunition  
  • Explosive weapons and materials
  • Weapon accessories
  • Knives, swords, and other blades longer than 12 inches  

This policy applies to both the sale and manufacture of these items. So even if you don’t directly sell weapons, you can’t run ads promoting gunsmithing services or knife-making classes.

There are a few exceptions to this rule. Facebook does allow ads for certain accessories like gun cases, slings, and holsters. And retailers who sell airsoft and paintball guns can promote those products as long as the ads are targeted to users 18 and over.

But in general, if your business involves weapons or related items, you’ll have a hard time advertising on Facebook. The platform takes a strong stance against promoting violence and wants to avoid any association with dangerous products.

3. Adult Products and Services

Facebook also prohibits ads for adult products and services, including:

  • Sexual and reproductive health products like contraceptives and sex toys
  • Sexually suggestive or explicit content
  • Sexual services like prostitution, escorts, and erotic massages
  • Adult and sexual dating sites
  • Pornography and other sexually explicit material

This policy is in place to maintain a family-friendly environment on the platform. Facebook wants to avoid exposing users, especially minors, to inappropriate or offensive content.

However, there are some exceptions and nuances to this rule. For example, Facebook does allow ads for contraceptives and sexual health products if they focus on the medical and health benefits rather than sexual pleasure.

So a condom brand could run ads talking about preventing STDs, but not about enhancing sexual experiences.

Similarly, dating sites and apps can advertise on Facebook as long as they are not explicitly sexual in nature. Platforms like Tinder and Bumble are allowed, but adult-only sites like AdultFriendFinder are not.

So, if you sell products in this category, you’ll need to be very mindful of your ad copy and imagery. Avoid anything too suggestive or provocative, and focus on the health and safety aspects of your products instead.

4. Misleading and Deceptive Products

Another big no-no on Facebook is misleading or deceptive products and claims. This includes:

  • “Miracle” weight loss products and fad diets
  • Products that claim to prevent, cure, or treat diseases without scientific evidence
  • Get-rich-quick and pyramid schemes
  • Payday or cash advance loans
  • Work-from-home and “make money online” programmes

Facebook wants to protect its users from scams and false promises, so it takes a hard line against any products or services that are not backed by legitimate evidence. 

This is especially important in the health and wellness space. With so much misinformation out there, Facebook is cracking down on bogus diet and nutrition claims.

So, if you sell things like supplements, detox teas, or meal replacement shakes, you need to be extra careful about the claims you make in your ads.

Avoid using sensational or hyperbolic language like “lose 30 pounds in 30 days!” or “this one weird trick cures diabetes.” Instead, focus on the real, science-backed benefits of your products and include appropriate disclaimers.

The same goes for financial products and services. If you’re promoting investment opportunities, trading systems, or business coaching, you need to be upfront about the risks involved and avoid making guarantees or over-the-top claims.

5. Controversial and Sensitive Topics

Finally, Facebook prohibits ads around certain controversial and sensitive topics, such as:

  • Hate speech and discriminatory content
  • Graphic violence and gore  
  • Profanity and obscenity
  • Tobacco and related products
  • Political and issue-based ads (in some cases)

These policies are designed to prevent the spread of harmful or offensive content and maintain a respectful environment on the platform.

For example, ads containing hate speech or discriminatory language against protected groups (e.g. based on race, ethnicity, religion, etc.) are strictly forbidden. The same goes for ads with graphic violence, gore, or disturbing imagery.

Tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, and e-cigarettes, are also banned from Facebook ads. The only exception is anti-smoking or smoking cessation products, which can be promoted with certain restrictions.

Political and issue-based ads are a bit of a grey area. In some countries, like the US, Facebook requires advertisers to go through a special authorisation process and include “paid for by” disclaimers on political ads.

But in other countries, political ads may be banned outright during election periods.

If you work in a sensitive or controversial niche, it’s crucial to review Facebook’s policies carefully and err on the side of caution with your ad content. When in doubt, leave it out or consult with a Facebook ads expert to ensure your campaigns are compliant.

Tips for Complying with Facebook’s Policies

Now that you know the main categories of prohibited products on Facebook, let’s go over some tips for ensuring your ads are policy-compliant:

1. Read the full advertising policies

This article covers the high-level categories, but Facebook’s ad policies are much more detailed and nuanced.

Take the time to read through the full policies on the Facebook Business Help Centre to make sure you understand all the rules and restrictions.

2. Be mindful of your targeting

Even if your product is allowed, you could still run into issues if you target your ads inappropriately.

For example, ads for alcohol or dating services must be targeted to users over a certain age. And ads for financial services may be restricted in certain countries. Always review the targeting specs for your particular product category.

3. Use appropriate language and visuals

Avoid using profanity, shocking or sensational images, or sexually suggestive copy in your ads. Stick to language and visuals that are appropriate for a general audience.

4. Provide substantiation for claims

If you make any claims about your product’s benefits or results, be prepared to back them up with scientific evidence or legitimate sources. Facebook may ask for substantiation during the ad review process.

5. Use links and landing pages wisely

Your ad creative is not the only thing that needs to comply with Facebook’s policies – your landing pages do too. Make sure any pages you link to from your ads follow the same rules and do not contain any prohibited content.

Alternative Advertising Options

If you find that your product is not allowed on Facebook, don’t despair – there are still plenty of other advertising options available. Here are a few alternatives to consider:

Google Ads

Google has a slightly different set of advertising policies than Facebook, so you may have more leeway with certain products. For example, Google allows ads for CBD products in some countries, while Facebook does not. 

Programmatic advertising

With programmatic platforms like Google Display Network or AdRoll, you can reach audiences across a wide range of websites and apps beyond just social media. This can be a good option if you want to diversify your ad placements.

Influencer marketing

If you can’t advertise your product directly, consider partnering with influencers or bloggers in your niche. They can promote your product to their followers in a more organic, authentic way. Just be sure to follow any relevant disclosure rules.

Industry-specific platforms

Depending on your product category, there may be specialised advertising platforms that cater to your niche. For example, traffic junkyy is a popular ad network for adult products, while Mantis is designed for CBD and cannabis brands.

Of course, these options come with their own sets of policies and restrictions, so you’ll need to do your research and make sure your products are compliant. But they can be good alternatives if Facebook is not an option.

The Bottom Line

Facebook’s advertising policies may seem strict and overwhelming at times, but they are in place for a reason – to maintain a safe, trustworthy, and positive environment for all users. 

As an advertiser, it’s your responsibility to understand and comply with these policies to the best of your ability. By avoiding prohibited products, using appropriate language and visuals, and being transparent about your offerings, you can run successful ad campaigns that drive real results for your business.

And if you do find that your product is not allowed on Facebook, don’t give up – there are still plenty of other advertising avenues to explore. With a little creativity and flexibility, you can find the right platforms and strategies to reach your target audience and grow your brand.

So before you launch your next Facebook ad campaign, take the time to review the policies and make sure your products and content are fully compliant. It may require some extra effort upfront, but it will save you a lot of headaches and wasted ad spend in the long run.

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