Facebook apologizes for blocking posts selling sealskin crafts
Posts with the words 'fur' or 'skin' were temporarily removed
A new Facebook policy that bans the sale of animal products caused frustration for vendors in Nunavut, who were blocked from posting sealskin crafts in the lead up to Christmas.
The commerce policy launched in Canada this fall, but it was only in the last few weeks that vendors noticed their posts being removed from the Iqaluit Sell/Swap Facebook group.
The update caused posts with the words "fur" or "skin" to be rejected by Facebook with a note appearing in a red box above the post saying "it looks like you're trying to sell an item that doesn't meet our policies."
Other posts that would be flagged with the same notice include posts selling guns or illegal products.
Busy sell/swap pages
Facebook is by far the most common form of neighbourhood commerce in Nunavut, with residents using the local sell/swap groups to trade traditional country foods like whale and caribou, sealskin crafts and furs.
For sealskin seamstresses the marketplace is an important way to get their crafts in front of a far-flung customer base. The Iqaluit Sell/Swap is just shy of 25,000 members — about 3 times the population of the city.
When CBC brought the removed posts to Facebook's attention it said it was interested in hearing from local experts to see how it could make Facebook "work better for this community."
The next day, Facebook said that the post was removed in error and apologized.
"We recognize the deep importance of seal and other animal products to Indigenous Canadians and want to clarify that products like the one the seller posted are allowed for sale on our platform," it said in a statement.
With files from Nick Murray