Facebook has banned a series of adverts by the leading UK meningitis charity, Meningitis Now, claiming they break image guidelines and may ‘shock’ viewers. The removal of these ads, designed to help people identify symptoms of the disease, is affecting the charity’s ability to communicate lifesaving information during the peak season for meningitis.
Planned adverts for the charity’s ‘Don’t Wait for A Rash’ campaign have been banned by the social media giant for “focusing on an ideal body image.” The campaign aims to educate the 34 million UK adults who wrongly believe a rash is the primary symptom of meningitis, however it can be a late symptom and is not always present.
Thomas Davis, Social Media Manager at Meningitis Now, said: “Our campaigns are designed to save lives. We know Facebook is an effective way for us to reach thousands of people with lifesaving information who may not know about our charity and the work we do.
“One of the images banned was a glass being pressed against a rash. It contains nothing controversial – there’s no nudity or promotion of an unhealthy body image and it has been already shared widely online.
“We rely on these kind of images to highlight just how dangerous meningitis is. Recent stories in the press, such as the Millie Dawson case, highlight how powerful these images are and the amount of awareness they can create.”
The image of a child in a hospital bed, recovering from meningitis, was also banned as it was deemed ‘scary, gory or sensational’. The charity has also struggled with adverts featuring amputees – aimed at raising awareness of the devastating impact the disease can have.
Mr Davis continued: “There was nothing shocking or scary about this photo – we have certainly used more graphic images in the past. The same image has been used and approved on other social media channels, including Instagram, as well as appearing on our website.
“In the past we’ve faced problems when using images of our supporters who have lost limbs as a result of meningitis. These images show the reality of the impact meningitis can have and it’s important that people see them. I really hope Facebook can work with us, not against us, in the future.”
Meningitis Now is urging people to remain vigilant of the signs and symptoms of meningitis, which can often be missed or mistaken for something else, such as flu or a hangover. Recognising the signs and acting fast can save lives. Do not wait for a rash.
For more information about the symptoms of meningitis visit the Meningitis Now website at www.meningitisnow.org, and order your free signs and symptoms card, download the Meningitis Now app or call our helpline on 0808 80 10 388.
Meningitis Now is the UK’s leading charity working to save lives and rebuild the futures of people affected by meningitis through research, support and awareness.