Facebook isn't accepting advertisements that promote Google Plus on its social network, as one self-described "Internet Geek" recently found out. After having placed an ad that informed Facebook visitors to add him on Google Plus, Michael Lee Johnson reported that Facebook shut down all his advertising campaigns, and banned him from using the Facebook advertising system.

Google+ Ad Banned from Facebook

According to Johnson's post on Google Plus (but of course), the Facebook advertisement originally read:

"If you're lucky enough to have a Google+ account, add Michael Lee Johnson, Internet Geek, App Developer, Technological Virtuoso."


The ad only ran for an hour before it was shut down, says Johnson. The reason? At first, Facebook wouldn't really say. The company only sent a vague email, which read:

"Your account has been disabled. All of your adverts have been stopped and should not be run again on the site under any circumstances. Generally, we disable an account if too many of its adverts violate our Terms of Use or Advertising guidelines. Unfortunately we cannot provide you with the specific violations that have been deemed abusive. Please review our Terms of Use and Advertising guidelines if you have any further questions."

Facebook also banned Johnson from its advertising platform, Johnson added via the comments on his Google Plus post.

As of today, Facebook has still not restored Johnson's ability to place Facebook ads.

Why Did This Happen?

The event, which was covered by numerous news outlets over the weekend (and yours truly, on Google Plus), positions Facebook as the big bad bully, afraid of its relatively small competition from Google. With 10 million users, Google Plus isn't even close to Facebook's 750 million, and won't be for a long, long time. Maybe ever.

So why did the social network ban the ad?

CNET speculated that Facebook simply opted to use this portion of its Advertising Guidelines:

"We may refuse ads at any time for any reason, including our determination that they promote competing products or services or negatively affect our business or relationship with our users."

In other words, Facebook has the right to refuse service at any time, especially if you're advertising its competition.

And as it turns out, that's precisely what happened here. In a separate email, sent after the initial message, Facebook did provide the reason for the ban as follows:

"We reserve the right to choose the advertisements that appear on the site, and ads for this product or service should not be resubmitted."


That couldn't be more clear: Facebook will not allow ads for Google Plus. Period.

But by taking this position, Facebook has demonstrated that it may actually fear the challenge that Google presents. Given Facebook's size, and the still-debated scalability of using "Circles" to manage friendships, it seems a bit premature for Facebook to go on the defensive like this.

In response, Johnson has now deleted his Facebook account, he says. But he only deleted the Facebook account he used for personal contacts, not the one he used for work. The gesture is more symbolic than anything - Facebook, even in offending an avid Google Plus supporter, didn't really lose his business.

For more on Google Plus Circles, see also: Google Plus' Circles System May Not be Sustainable.