Is Facebook ripping you off in small increments?

I’ve noticed over the last year that any time I buy an ad on Facebook that is rejected by them for too much text, Facebook says my ad reached a small number of people – maybe a few dozen – even though the ad was not approved. Then I receive a bill from Facebook  charging me a small amount of money – usually under a dollar – for the rejected ad.

Here’s a recent bill:

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And a previous bill:

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And a previous bill:

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Yes, you would think that by now I’d learn to religiously use Facebook’s Text Overlay tool to measure how much text I’m putting into my ads (usually too much) so my ads wouldn’t get rejected so often. But I forget.

Each time I’m billed a tiny amount for rejected ads, I shake my head in disbelief that Facebook is charging me, but I don’t do anything about it. “It’s only 20 cents,” I think, and not worth the hassle of going after such a small amount.

Each time this happens, it does occur to me that Facebook could be pulling micro amounts of money from other people’s credit cards for the very same thing. I’m  reminded of a movie plot about a scam being pulled off where micro-transactions were skimmed off the top of many accounts over a period of time to generate millions for the thieves.

Is it possible Facebook is ripping us off in small change each time they reject an ad?

I don’t think I’m being overly dramatic. Over recent years, we’ve all learned how lucrative micro-transactions can be, from people making hundreds or thousands of dollars a month selling virtual clothing on Second Life during the service’s heyday to today’s crowdfunding where “micro-investments” of $5, $10, $15 from hundreds or thousands of people actually fund projects and products.

So if I do nothing about this charge and most other people do nothing about this charge, Facebook really does make money.

I know it’s only about $1.50 in the last few bills. That’s nothing, really. Or is it?

What if this is happening to a hundred people each month – or a thousand or ten thousand? $1.50 becomes $150 or $1500 or even $15,000.

If Facebook now has over 54,200,000 Pages, and  if a small fraction of those Pages advertise – say 1% so 542,000 – and of those, only half get an ad rejected so 271,000 rejected ads at an average of 30 cents per rejected ad, Facebook has just made $81,300 for NOT accepting ads.

Technically, Facebook is charging for “impressions,” and a Facebook Help Team member in Facebook’s Help Community explains it this way:

When you run ads on Facebook, you will only be charged for the number of impressions (CPM) or clicks your ads receive. Your ad may have been disapproved after initially being approved. You may have achieved delivery of your ad when it was approved and been billed accordingly, but your ad is no longer accruing any charges now that it is not approved.

For example, our text overlay policy only applies to News Feed distribution. If your ad has more than 20% text, it may have been not approved once it achieved distribution in News Feed. If this is the case, the charges you will see are for the delivery it achieved prior to not being approved. You can learn more about our Ad Guidelines here:

I’d recommend reviewing the detailed breakdown of your ad charges as described here: 

So apparently, your rejected ad is being released, accruing a small reach – between 10-50 impressions – then is pulled.

If we are supposedly getting a few dozen impressions before our ad is pulled, are we getting any value here or is this a rip off? I’d love to know what you think.

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