Facebook Rejected a Photo of Onions for Being 'Overtly Sexual'

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I guess?


Facebook's community standards have gotten stricter over the years. And while some rules are more obvious than others (nudity, violence, and hate speech are all barred from the platform), one might think posting a pile of produce is safe. But you'd be wrong, in certain instances that is. 

Earlier this week, a Canadian store -- known around St. John's, Newfoundland as the Seed Company by EW Gaze -- shared a perfectly innocent promotional photo of some Walla Walla onions (this is not a euphemism. They were really just onions). Facebook, however, did not agree and flagged the post for being... too sexy.

"So we just got notified by Facebook that the photo used for our Walla Walla onion seed is 'Overtly Sexual' and therefore cannot be advertised to be sold on their platform," the company wrote on Facebook alongside the image. "Can you see it?" 

Here's the question: Were the onions presented in a, um, NSFW manner or is Facebook's mind just in the gutter? It seems the latter, with the Seed Company's store manager Jackson McLean telling BBC that it was "something about the round shapes" that alerted the social media site. A theory that FB Canada's head of communications Meg Sinclair quickly confirmed. 

"We use automated technology to keep nudity off our apps, but sometimes it doesn't know a Walla Walla onion from a, well, you know,” Sinclair told the news outlet. "We restored the ad and are sorry for the business's trouble." 

While it might seem like one big inconvenience for the brand, the social media mix-up has been somewhat of a genius marketing ploy. The company's rebranded its onion seeds as "sexy onions" and have sold "more in the last three days than in the last five years," McLean reports. So, thanks, I guess? 

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Megan Schaltegger is a staff writer at Thrillist.