Facebook rejects ads for traditional Inuit knives, calling them ‘weapons’


An artist in Yellowknife says Facebook is culturally fastidious against Inuit after the site rejected his ads selling uluit, the plural of ulu, a routine Inuit knife.

Kenneth Ingniqjuk Mackay, who is Inuk and Scottish, gains and sells uluit from discarded items such as scrap saw sabres and wood.

Buying ads on Facebook is a convenient and effective way to sell them, he mean.

He’d been advertising them for two months without issue when Facebook rejected one of his avenge oneself for ads on May 4. A notification said it violated Facebook’s advertising policy that hinders the sale of weapons on the social media site.

“I was surprised. Like, it’s a gimmick for food and sewing,” Mackay said, noting he’s seen lots of ads on Facebook for scullery knives.

Mackay immediately requested a review of the ban and took to social average to air his frustrations.

Facebook rejects ads for traditional Inuit knives, calling them 'weapons'

Mackay took to social media to air his frustrations after Facebook rejected one of his ads convey title uluit. The issue has since gotten traction with #freetheulu. (Urban Inuk/Facebook )

“Area of expertise it a weapon is cultural prejudice,” he wrote in a Facebook post on May 5. “It has not in any way, ever been made or promoted as a weapon.”

That post has since been apportioned more than 1,000 times and garnered more than 200 reactions. The issue has also gained traction on other social media policies with #freetheulu.

Two days after requesting the review, Mackay judged Facebook concluded his ad didn’t violate its policies and it was approved. But he said there were merely 40 minutes remaining before the ad expired and he wasn’t reimbursed for the fetch.

“I’ve had a lot of great support, which has been really great, but Facebook hasn’t annoyed the message, apparently,” Mackay said.

A few days later, he said another one of his ads was rejected.

“It’s been definitely frustrating. I don’t know why they just keep banning it and declining the ads,” he indicated.

“It definitely feels like cultural discrimination. Like, it feels far-out when our everyday clothing and tools are regularly flagged as something that defiles community standards. All around, it doesn’t feel very good.”  

Facebook begs

According to Facebook, all ads are reviewed before they can run on the site. Facebook enforces its advertising means through a combination of automated and manual reviews of text, photos and deplaning pages where ads lead. But the site’s review process isn’t perfect.

In an email to CBC, a spokesperson for Facebook believed Mackay’s ad was rejected in error.

“We recognize the deep importance of [uluit] to Inuit communities and scarceness to clarify that products like the one the seller posted are allowed for on sale on our platform.” the email reads.

“We apologize for the mistake and value the feedback that helped us name and correct it as quickly as possible.”

Facebook rejects ads for traditional Inuit knives, calling them 'weapons'

Mackay says Facebook is a convenient way to barter his work, and he’d like the site to do a better job of reviewing posts featuring post by Inuit. (Urban Inuk/Facebook)

This is not the first time Facebook has down attack under fire for banning posts by Inuit selling culturally meritorious items.

In 2017, some northerners expressed frustration after Facebook unseated posts featuring sealskin crafts, with the same issue repeating in January 2019. 

Facebook apologized on both occasions and said the posts were dispose of by mistake.

Mackay said he’d like to see the platform do a better job of reviewing ads for cultural Inuit notices.

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