Ontogenie Science Jewelry is dedicated to shining a light on the lesser-known corners of science and nature. This light-shining means that I sometimes overstep my bounds, at least as far as Meta is concerned. Meta is the umbrella organization of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. The first two platforms are integral parts of my social media strategy. My products are listed in my shop's Facebook/Instagram commerce manager so that my products can be tagged and linked to their listings here on my website. This makes it easier for customers casually browsing Instagram or Facebook to find me. It's a good thing.
Except that not all of my products are eligible for such beneficial social media exposure. Some of my products have been banned by Meta. They are still available on my website because Shopify doesn't have such strict (and ridiculous) product policies. But, these same products cannot be tagged on Instagram or Facebook. I thought it would be fun to show you the renegades from my collections and the reasons Meta has decided they aren't fit for public consumption. The list is arranged by the policies I've unintentionally defied.
Should you sell animals on Facebook? No. Am I selling animals on Facebook? No. I am selling jewelry. Some of my jewelry represents animals, yes, but it is not made from animals. My jewelry is 3D printed in wax and cast in precious metals. Nevertheless, several of my products violate the Meta commerce manager's ban on selling animals. These include my Acropora Elkhorn Pendant and Ring, the Ammonite Fossil Pendant, the Dickinsonia Fossil Pendant, and the Dailyatia SSF (small shelly fossil) lapel pin and earrings.
The Meta policy allows the sale of animal cages and products for animals, like toys and collars. It prohibits the sale of "any product or part, including but not limited to leather, skin, hide, fur, wool, or hair from any dogs, cats, or endangered or threatened animals, live animals, livestock, pets, or prohibited animal parts, including but not limited to bone, teeth, horn, ivory, taxidermy, organs, external limbs, secretions, or carcasses." Nowhere in this policy does it prohibit the sale of jewelry that looks like animals. Interestingly, I have an entire section of my website dedicated specifically to Animal Jewelry, and Meta is perfectly fine with that. Is it prohibited to sell fossils on Facebook? This isn't addressed in their policy, but it hardly matters since they are not real fossils, they are jewelry representing fossils.
2. Drugs and Tobacco Products and Related Paraphernalia
Two of my products violate both the rule on not selling drugs and the rule on not selling tobacco and related paraphernalia. These are the Cannabidiol (CBD) Tie Bar and the Hops Flower Pendant. As Humulus lupulus is a member of the Cannabaceae, I accept that the hops pendant will fall in the same category as the CBD tie bar. Except, they're jewelry. You can't smoke them. They contain no cannabinoids of any kind. Maybe "related paraphernalia?" Someone wants to use one of my pieces of jewelry to roll one? Okay, Meta, ya got me.
Both the Saccharomyces earrings and the Anglerfish Pendant have been banned under Meta's alcohol policy. Whereas both beer and wine are mentioned in the Saccharomyces earrings product description because of the important role of this yeast in fermentation and in civilization itself, they are not beer, or wine, or alcohol of any kind. They are jewelry.
The rejection of the poor Anglerfish Pendant is thoroughly mystifying. Here is the listing description for this product:
"The Anglerfish is a carnivore that fishes by luring its prey with a fleshy appendage called an "esca" that hangs temptingly just in front of its mouth. The esca is colonized with bioluminescent bacteria that attract smaller fish in the darkness of the deep ocean. Females also use the bioluminescent esca to attract mates. In addition to this specialized structure, anglerfish are characterized by a globose shape and ferociously sharp teeth that angle inward to prevent prey fish from escaping."
There is not one mention of any alcohol-related product or depiction of alcohol in this listing. My best guess is that since this fish is so weird, and because I included the part about attracting mates, Meta has assumed I was drunk at the time I wrote the description and therefore banned it. It's the only sensible explanation.
4. Medical and Healthcare Products
Three of my designs have been censored for violating the prohibition on selling medical and healthcare products on Facebook, including the Testosterone Tie Bar, the Drosophila lapel pin (but not the Drosophila pendant or earrings), and the Saccharomyces pendant (but not the Saccharomyces earrings.) To be clear, I do not make any claims on the potential health or medical benefits of wearing my jewelry. If it makes you feel good to wear it, then I am delighted. If you don't know the difference between jewelry and medicine, well, you're probably not going to be able to complete a purchase on my website without assistance.
The Testosterone Tie Bar was also found to violate the "Adult Products" policy. It is a tie clip, not a sex toy. What you choose to use it for, though, is your business. I do not judge.
5. Commerce Policies
Three products were rejected under the nebulous term "Commerce Policies." These include the Aiptasia Sea Anemone pendant, the Ammonite Fossil pendant (previously banned for being an animal) and the Ichthyosaur Fossil pendant.
The Meta commerce policies are based on their community standards which forbid an array of unsavory uses for their platforms including "coordinating harm and promoting crime," human exploitation, hate speech, cybersecurity, misinformation, and "inauthentic behavior." In principle, I'm glad that these safeguards are in place. In practice, they're hard to monitor without some overreach now and then. If you would like to see the complete list, you can view it here: https://transparency.fb.com/policies/community-standards
My goal at Ontogenie has always been to try to provide the most accurate information about my designs as possible, served with a side of humor. I try to be my most authentic self in all interactions. I do not promote crime or any of the other horrible things Meta is passive-aggressively accusing me of. Frankly, I'm stumped as to why these products have been rejected.
Products that should have been banned, but weren't.
I have a few products that seem to be flying under the Meta policy radar. The Conception Fertilization pendant is one. Sperm enters egg. It doesn't get sexier than that. Or how about my C. elegans designs? Nematode earrings, tie bar, pendant, lapel pin and ring, all engaging in non-binary intercourse (one worm is hermaphroditic, the other is male). In the description for the ciliate Tetrahymena pendant, I mention sexual reproduction. Not banned.
I also sell a pendant that is a naked and lovely rendition of the Venus of Willendorf. Facebook used to regard Venus as pornography, not art, despite multiple challenges to the contrary. Thanks to the "artivism" of Laura Ghianda, depictions of the Stone Age beauty were finally approved on the platform in 2018.
By writing this blog post, I've probably exposed myself to unwanted commerce manager scrutiny. Oh well, Meta is not my mom. Ontogenie will be okay.