Watch: Facebook flags onion seed ad as ‘overly sexual’

Oct. 7 (UPI) — Officials with a Canadian business said they were left surprised, confused and somewhat amused when Facebook refused to run an ad because a photo of onions was flagged as an “overtly sexual image.”

Jackson McLean, a manager at Gaze Seed Company in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, said the company submitted an ad to Facebook to promote its walla walla onions, but the submitted image was rejected by the social media network because the photo, which depicted only a group of onions, was deemed to be “overtly sexual.”

“We got notified the other day that it’s an ‘overtly sexual image’ that they had to ban from the site,” McLean told CBC News. “I guess something about the two round shapes there could be misconstrued as boobs or something, nude in some way.”

McLean said he had to laugh at what was apparently an error by Facebook’s anti-nudity algorithm.

“I just thought it was funny,” he said. “You’d have to have a pretty active imagination to look at that and get something sexual out of it … ‘Overtly sexual,’ as in there’s no way of mistaking it as not sexual.”

The company appealed the decision, and a Facebook Canada spokeswoman confirmed the ad’s rejection was an algorithm error.

“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,” the spokeswoman, Meg Sinclair, told The National Post. “We restored the ad and are sorry for the business’ trouble.”

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