A sanitary towel advert was taken down from Facebook for using the word “vagina”.
Toiletries brand Bodyform attempted to post a video on the social media platform showing members of the public discussing words relating to menstrual health.
It was then reportedly taken down, and the company was sent a notification by Facebook stating that its material “must be targeted to people aged 18 or older”.
Bodyform then posted a link to the video on YouTube, with the caption “V@g!na”, “Vul\/a” and “Cl!t0r!s” instead.
It continued: “We didn’t want to censor these words - we wanted to post them in all their glory. But Facebook had other ideas. Which proves our point entirely.”
The video was part of an anti-stigma campaign by the toiletries company, which it said tried to draw attention to the censorship of words around women’s bodies.
An uncensored version of the post has been uploaded to TikTok, and has not been removed by the Beijing-based platform.
Gareth Lucy, a spokesman for Bodyform, said the reaction from Facebook was “unfortunate but not surprising”.
He continued: “Our latest campaign, which calls out the unnecessary censorship of words commonly used to talk about, describe and define women’s bodies and their experiences, has been censored by some social media companies.
“In doing so, these companies have simply underlined the need for campaigns of this nature that seek to break down the barriers that prevent women from being able to speak openly and confidently about their bodies.”
The company claimed it was sent an automated notification by Facebook that read: “Ads must not promote the sale or use of adult products or services.
“Ads promoting sexual and reproductive health products or services, such as contraception and family planning, must be targeted to people aged 18 and older, and must not focus on sexual pleasure.”
The Bodyform video shows members of the public being shown cards with words relating to the female body on them, such as “vagina” and “vulva”.
One woman who was interviewed said that social media platforms are “hit or miss” when it comes to using these terms.
The presenter opens the 99-second clip with the words: “Vagina is one of the most censored words on social media - that’s why we’re on a mission to reclaim all of those words that you just can’t say.”
At one point, she tells an interviewee: “You said you felt a bit embarrassed, but maybe talking about and knowing and learning is what we need to do to move forward.”
Facebook has been approached for comment.
According to Marketing Week, a Bodyform television advert featuring a bloody sanitary towel was the most complained-about advert of 2022.
It received almost 800 complaints, although the advertising watchdog ultimately decided it was not “overly graphic” and no rules had been broken.