Facebook has said it will be providing extra training for its staff after a disability rights activist was told “disability was disturbing to some people” by a representative of the social media giant.
Simon Sansome, from Leicester, who runs Ability Access, called Facebook’s marketing team after believing that his page had been barred from being shared with new users.
During the call, an operator reportedly told Simon: “You will have to understand that some people see disability as disturbing, you will have to think about it like that.
“I have never come across a page that promotes disability.”
The 37-year-old disabled journalist says he “could not believe what was happening.”
‘Incorrect Information’ Given
Facebook says its employee gave Simon incorrect information, and that his page was instead blocked for featuring a naked picture of Vicky Balch, who was injured in the Alton Towers rollercoaster crash in 2015.
Ability Access was set up in 2016 to “get people talking about disability” in the UK, and is used to promote disability rights charities, and community events.
Some people see disability as disturbing, you will have to think about it like that.
Facebook representative in a call to Simon Sansome.
When the pictures first came out following her 21st birthday in 2016, Vicky said they made her feel “amazing”.
Simon contacted Facebook about the “shocking” response he received over the phone, who apologised “profusely” to both him and the Ability Access community.
Facebook To Provide ‘Additional Training’
The tech giant explained that because the post in question was an advert, it was subject to stricter standards than normal posts.
A spokesperson continued: “What Mr Sansome was told is incorrect and should not have been said.
“The advert in question was not rejected for featuring disturbing content. It was, however, rejected for depicting adult content as there is a partially covered topless female in the video. If Mr Sansome is able to remove this particular image from the video, the advert would be approved and allowed to run.
“We are investigating what happened here and will provide additional training to the team that spoke with Mr Sansome.
“This community, like many other groups and pages for disability in the UK, is doing great work and we’re proud that they are using Facebook to reach people.”
The 37-year-old, who suffered spinal damage after a rugby accident four years ago and now uses a wheelchair, says he has “no intention” of removing the image, however, describing it as showing “a wonderful brave woman showing off her disability.”