A Wellington man who started a new business venture during lockdown has revealed his sales have been significantly impacted after Facebook canned his advertising over an "arousing pie" ad.
Niels Reinsborg told the Herald he started his business, Crafty Pies, around February before the Covid-19 pandemic prevented him from supplying his pies to local cafes.
He then came up with the idea of providing a contactless delivery service where he sent pies to hungry customers.
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His business turned into a success, selling hundreds of pies a week thanks to Facebook advertising.
However, his new venture turned sour on May 7 when a Facebook ad post for "Cypriot Shephards' Pie" was immediately rejected, being flagged as "adult content" by the social media giant.
The innocent ad features a photo of a pie with a slice taken out of it with the product details reading: "Lean lamb cooked with fresh ginger cumin and cinnamon, served in parmesan and black pepper pastry with a mashed carrot and parsnip topping."
"While it's a very cute pie, I don't think it's too objectively arousing for the general public," Reinsborg said.
He added that he couldn't believe that a person would have rejected the post and thinks it could have been an AI that made the unusual decision.
Ever since the post was rejected Reinsborg hasn't been able to advertise his pies on Facebook which has impacted his sales significantly.
"I would have to say 80 per cent of my customers came through from Facebook," he said.
"People who have originally seen the ads before are re-ordering, but I am getting a lot fewer orders than previously as new customer sales were driven through Facebook."
Reinsborg said he has made two appeals regarding his post but has been told there is a delay in replying because of Covid-19.
Since being contacted by the Herald, a Facebook spokesperson said the account was removed in error by its automated system and has since been restored.