Facebook bans ads for award-winning Votes for Women board game’s new Kickstarter, claims it is a “sensitive social issue”

Votes for Women, the critically acclaimed card-driven wargame about the fight for women’s suffrage in the US, stands to miss out on up to $60,000 of backing for its second print run after Facebook repeatedly banned ads for the game due to it featuring a “sensitive social issue”.

Tory Brown’s debut game, published by Fort Circle Games, catapulted both designer and publisher into the board gaming limelight following its release in 2022, picking up widespread praise from reviewers including Polygon’s Charlie Hall, who named it one of the year’s best board games, and game design luminaries including Undaunted series co-designer David Thompson.

Awards recognition soon followed, with the game picking up nominations for best wargame and best thematic board game in the 2022 Golden Geek Awards, best early modern wargame in the 2022 Charles S Roberts awards, and last month scooping the 2023 Summit Award celebrating the historical board game which best succeeded in broadening the hobby.

Spurred by the game’s success, publisher Fort Circle launched crowdfunding for a second printing of the game on December 17 last year – a campaign which has already pulled in over $75,000, more than two-and-a-half times the amount raised for its first Kickstarter campaign with 14 days still to go.

But Fort Circle founder Kevin Bertram told BoardGameWire the Facebook ads for the campaign he has been submitting since the start of the New Year are all being rejected after a very short amount of time on the site.

The automated response Bertram is receiving from Facebook says the ads are being rejected because they either mention a politician or are about “sensitive social issues”, which “could influence how people vote and may impact the outcome of an election or pending legislation”.

His requests for review have also all been rejected.

Bertram said, “Facebook has, of course, ignored any requests for information – so I do not know for sure it is a human taking the ads down, but that is what appears to be happening.

“The campaign is a modest success – we should finish at about $120,000 – but we are missing out on a huge potential audience and this may cost us as much as $60,000 in funds raised. Most Kickstarter creators will tell you that Facebook advertising is a crucial piece of the crowdfunding puzzle.

“It is disappointing that a company that has financially benefited in the past from election shenanigans now will not allow advertising for a board game that celebrates a woman’s right to vote. It is beyond disappointing.”

Votes for Women designer Tory Brown

He added, “A woman’s right to vote is not a ‘sensitive social issue’. It is established law and fact. A board game about historical events from over a century ago is unlikely to ‘impact the outcome of an election or pending legislation’.”

Votes for Women designer Tory Brown, a long-time activist who works as a political communications strategist for progressive causes, added, “The struggle for equal representation and a political voice was at the heart of the suffrage movement.

“If you’re concerned about the outsized role that huge corporations like Meta now play in who gets to be heard, consider joining or supporting an organization like the American Economic Liberties Project, Public Citizen, or the Open Markets Institute.

“Together, we can end the concentration of political and economic power held by a few self-serving gatekeepers.”

The Votes for Women second printing Kickstarter runs until January 26. Anyone interested in trying out the game for free digitally can do so through the Rally The Troops website.

23 Comments

  1. The more we use bots as gatekeepers, the worse our future becomes. Bots are blind to nuance, context and our ever evolving language. If a human was involved, that human is a dumbass.

  2. Facebook management is a “sensitive social issue”, which “could influence how people vote and may impact the outcome of an election or pending legislation”. 🤔

  3. Surprised Facebook would give this trouble, unless they’re being pressured by China or Islam, aka the alt-left.

    • Not really it is actually a self inflicted wound. China is having popcorn on US nonsense already for a few years now. lol

    • Everything about your comment is dumb as hell, but I think my favorite part is saying that they are being pressured by “Islam”. I love it when a dummy shows off what a dummy they are.

  4. If you’ve ever tried buying ads on Facebook about just about anything that is even remotely close to a social issue, you get this automated rejection. All you have to do (as you can see in the screenshot here) is provide proof of your identity and they’ll let you run it. Basically they mail you a code to a physical address and you put that code in and you’re good to go.

    It’s a pain, but the election-influencing shenanigans by Russia’s disinfo group (and the resulting Congressional hearings) in 2016 and 2020 are the reason why they do this now. Those disinfo campaigns didn’t just target explicitly political topics, they were found to influence just about every hot button topic, even pop culture. There’s evidence they were behind a lot of the “outrage” over The Last Jedi, even.

    I agree that women’s suffrage should not be considered a “sensitive social issue” at all, but nevertheless that’s the world we live in, a world where even something as relatively banal as Star Wars can be used as a weapon to influence foreign populations maliciously.

    • Facebook is huge joke. I don’t see why anyone uses that stupid platform. If you want to keep in touch with people, call them or text with them.

  5. I wonder if it is pure AI seeing the word vote… Or if they’ve outsourced their human moderators overseas (likely), and because how horribly Americans are seen they’re not actually sure that American women have the right to vote. =o Or it’s outsourced to a country where women do not or only recently got to vote.

  6. FB was designed to bring people together. Imho, it has done nothing but the opposite. Moves like that do nothing but further the ignorance and erasure of this country’s history while a very well designed game and its creators and publisher suffer. However, the campaign seems to still be doing well and so far has raised 20x plus over their goal. Secure a pledge today!

  7. It’s not surprising that when women and the freedom of speech are under attack from the far right, that bots trained in this behaviour would replicate it.

      • Meta is a billion dollar company. It’s not left at all. It’s capitalist. Which means they will do whatever is popular, even if that means giving with one hand and taking with the other.

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