Facebook removes police charity’s ad for a fundraiser for fallen officers: ‘Sensitive social issue’

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Editor note: Law Enforcement Today is proud to support and endorse this incredible organization.  Below is a look at some highlights our team filmed at their rodeo in 2019.

FLORIDA – A nonprofit organization based out of South Florida was recently unable to promote an advertisement on Facebook for an upcoming fundraiser that is meant to benefit children in underserved areas of the community, as well as the families of law enforcement officers who passed away in the line of duty.

According to Facebook at the time of the ad takedown, the nonprofit behind the post that was unable to be promoted or notified that the ad was rejected because it “mentions politicians or is about sensitive social issues”.

Facebook later claimed that their removal of the ad was in error, saying that their “enforcement is never perfect since machines and human reviewers make mistakes”.

On July 14th, Facebook rejected an ad for the Southeast Police Motorcycle Rodeo Committee’s promotion of an upcoming raffle of a Harley Davidson motorcycle, which the nonprofit organization was relying heavily on online raffle ticket sales due to the pandemic.

Officer Chris Swinson, president of the Southeast Police Motorcycle Rodeo Committee, says that when he filed an appeal for the ad take down on July 20th, Facebook sent the following message regarding why the ad was removed:

“Your ad may have been rejected because it mentions politicians or is about sensitive social issues that could influence public opinion, how people vote and may impact the outcome of an election or pending legislation.”

Officer Swinson stated that there was nothing remotely political about the advertisement, highlighting that the ad was simply meant to promote a charity fundraiser:

“Our personal opinions on politics are not shared through the charity whatsoever. We’re not here to alienate someone, we don’t care about their political views. Me raising money to buy computers and equipment and washers and dryers for the Boys & Girls Club has no emphasis on politics or elections.”

Proceeds of this charity raffle are intended to benefit Concerns for Police Survivors, also known as C.O.P.S., as well as the Boys and Girls Club of Broward County.

Officer Swinson added that just because Southeast Police Motorcycle Rodeo Committee is law enforcement-themed, their backing and desire to promote a charity event shouldn’t be construed as political:

“Just because law enforcement backs a charity, political views should be put aside because all they’re doing is hurting the kids who are involved. These kids are coming there after school so they’re not roaming the streets.”

Candice Ciccarelli, marketing coordinator for the Southeast Police Motorcycle Rodeo, suspects the ad being flagged by Facebook is part of a broader effort by the social media platform where they’re “targeting all police material, even children’s charities.”

Following up on the matter, a Facebook spokesperson informed Fox News via a written statement that the ad was erroneously removed from the platform:

“This ad was incorrectly flagged as political and taken down for running without a disclaimer, so we have reversed that decision. Our enforcement is never perfect since machines and human reviewers make mistakes, but we’re always working to improve.”

Tickets for the raffle are priced at $1 each, with the winner of the raffle being announced at an in-person event being held in September.

Officer Swinson says that the work they do at the Southeast Police Motorcycle Rodeo Committee is meant to “humanize the badge” and allow community members to see local law enforcement for who they really are:

“We’re trying to humanize the badge here. As motorcycle officers, we have the image of not being the friendliest guys. So the reason why this was adopted, was to bridge the gap with the community.”

“I want them to see a motorcycle officer not for the guy that’s walking up in tight pants and boots behind you. I want you to see that guy interacting with his family and his friends, hugging his kid and competing to raise money for children’s charities.”

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This isn’t the first time we at Law Enforcement Today have shared a report regarding Facebook clamping down on police-themed charitable organizations. 

In late July, we reported that a charity that benefits police families who have children with special needs had a post marked as “spam” regarding the promotion of the nonprofit. 

Here’s that previous report. 

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Blue Hearts for Heroes, a nonprofit organization that helps support law enforcement families who have children with special needs, recently had one of their posts on their Facebook page removed for violating Community Standards.

The guideline in question that was allegedly violated falls under Facebook’s “spam” policies.

Blue Hearts for Heroes post flagged as spam
Blue Hearts for Heroes post flagged as spam

On July 27th, the moderator for the Blue Hearts for Heroes Facebook page attempted to upload a post depicting a dozen police officers accompanied by a volunteer police chaplain and his therapy dog who, according to the post, “are available to respond to our law enforcement community across the great state of TX when a crisis occurs!”

However, the post was later flagged as violating Facebook’s community guidelines, with the following message as to what was violated:

“This post goes against our Community Standards on spam.”

According to Facebook’s Community Standards on “spam”, the following is written:

“We work hard to limit the spread of spam because we do not want to allow content that is designed to deceive, or that attempts to mislead users, to increase viewership.

This content creates a negative user experience, detracts from people’s ability to engage authentically in online communities and can threaten the security, stability and usability of our services.

We also aim to prevent people from abusing our platform, products or features to artificially increase viewership or distribute content en masse for commercial gain.”

Facebook’s details on what falls under the category of spam, or aligns with what spamming would look like, highlights posting “at very high frequencies”, sharing “misleading content” to generate clicks, and overall deceptive practices/content pushed by a particular post.

But the post in question just doesn’t nestle in at all with any of the defined iterations of “spam”, according to Facebook’s own Community Standards.

The Facebook page for Blue Hearts for Heroes certainly doesn’t post any content at “very high frequencies”, as the page averages roughly a single post per day or even less than that. As for anything deceptive or misleading, it’s a pretty straight forward page representing a nonprofit organization.

Matthew Silverman, the co-founder of Blue Hearts for Heroes who hosts a 20 year background in law enforcement and serves as the National Executive Vice President of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, was baffled when he saw that the post was flagged:

“If a picture of those who stand for law and order goes against your standards, I find it hard to believe you actually have any standards.”

When reached out to for comment on the matter, Facebook did not respond or elaborate on how the post in question falls under their spam policies.

When reviewing the “About” section of Blue Hearts for Heroes website, the mission of the organization is expanded upon in greater detail, highlighting the purpose the NPO serves:

“The mission of Blue Hearts for Heroes is to provide information, support, and assistance to law enforcement families with children who have special needs.

Blue Hearts for Heroes is dedicated to improving the quality of life of children with special needs and their families by developing and disseminating essential skills, knowledge, and values through research, teaching, and service.”

“We are committed to listening to and learning from families and encouraging full participation in community life by all people, especially those with special needs.

We are committed to giving the children opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, others.”

For those interested in donating to Blue Hearts for Heroes to further enable their mission to assist law enforcement families and their children with special needs, please click the link here.

Do you want to join our private family of first responders and supporters?  Get unprecedented access to some of the most powerful stories that the media refuses to show you.  Proceeds get reinvested into having active, retired and wounded officers, their families and supporters tell more of these stories.  Click to check it out.

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We at Law Enforcement Today have previously covered the work of Blue Hearts for Heroes back in May. 

Here’s that previous report. 

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Policing has never been an easy job, and recent times have done nothing but further complicate it and make it more trying. For those officers that are also a parent of a child with special needs, the situation is almost unfathomable.

And yet, this is the life of thousands of officers across our nation. They serve their communities with honor and nobility during their shifts, and then they go home to help with their special needs child.

No matter what a parent’s profession, their children are always on their minds at some point during their workday. But none more so than those who have needs beyond what’s considered “normal.”

For officers, this double duty of service in a dynamic and sometimes dangerous environment on one end, and a challenging and frustrating environment on the other can lead to extreme and complete exhaustion.

Robert Greenberg, who has been in law enforcement for over 30 years and is currently serving in Florida, had law enforcement families such as these on his heart increasingly throughout the years.

He met with Mathew Silverman and John Wiley, and the three formulated a plan to find a way to serve these officers and their families.

Thus, Blue Hearts for Heroes was born.

Blue Hearts for Heroes is a 501(c)(3), its mission is to support law enforcement families who have children with special needs.

The website reads:

“Blue Hearts for Heroes is dedicated to improving the quality of life of children with special needs and their families by developing and disseminating essential skills, knowledge, and values through research, teaching, and service.”

According to Robert, the idea is that when officers can be comforted knowing that their spouses and children are getting the assistance they need at home, those officers will be better able to focus on protecting and serving the citizens of their communities.

As it says on the website, Blue Hearts for Heroes is “committed to assisting law enforcement heroes with the help they need so they can continue assisting the citizens of the communities they serve.”

What a beautiful notion and an honorable mission.

Robert was asked about his decision to start this specific type of nonprofit. He said:

“It’s simple. There’s currently no type of support specifically aimed at officers with duties that go above and beyond the ‘normal’ realm of family once they hang up their uniform for the day. I wanted to change that.

“I want to be able to help reduce stress for these officers in any way I can, especially in this climate. Through education and acts of service, I believe we can accomplish that.”

Like Robert, Mathew has served many years in law enforcement, having just passed the 20-year mark. For him, starting the Blue Hearts for Heroes was a way to take his many years of community service to a new level.

Mathew said:

“Being active in police organizations and advocating for my fellow officers just didn’t feel like enough. I wanted to find a way to serve those who are serving our communities and felt an especially strong pull towards the officers that had even more struggles on the home front.”

Permanently disabled in the line of duty, John knew a thing or two about facing extra hardships at home. He was able to rebuild his life after law enforcement and become the host of a nationally syndicated radio show, which has led to him meeting hundreds of officers in all walks of life.

John said:

“I talked with so many officers who have special needs children at home, and I just feel like I connect with them. Everyone goes through times with a little bit of extra struggles, but this isn’t just a phase- it’s their whole lives. We want these families to know that we see them and they’re not alone.”

Robert, Mathew, and John have brought an impressive group together to form the board for their nonprofit, including other active police officers, one who has two sons with autism, as well as a PH.D.

Blue Hearts for Heroes is ready to bring training, blessings, and support to families of police officers with special needs children.

To offer a tax-deductible donation to this wonderful cause, click HERE.

To get involved and volunteer with Blue Hearts for Heroes, click HERE.

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