Facebook’s Booby blunder hinders Christmas Island tourism

Monday, 2 September 2013 11:07 AM

 Christmas Island's Bird'n'Nature Week takes place every September

Christmas Island's Bird'n'Nature Week takes place every September

Facebook has hindered Christmas Island Tourism’s PR efforts by blocking an advert for its annual Bird'n'Nature Week, featuring its famous residents - the boobies.

The social media site claimed the picture of a baby Brown Booby with the text "Some gorgeous shots here of some juvenile boobies” breached Facebook's Ad guidelines by 'addressing the age, gender or sexual orientation of users on Facebook'.

This tiny Australian territory located 360 miles south of Java has been labelled 'Australia's own Galapagos' and David Attenborough called footage of him being overrun by red crabs during Christmas Islands annual crab migration for 1990 'The Trials of Life', one of his top 10 most memorable experiences.

With the imminent closure of the island's Detention Centre, the 1,350 permanent residents of the island are turning to eco-tourism to secure their future livelihoods.

One of the key facets has been the islands 'Bird'n'Nature Week' every September that draws birders from around the globe to see the islands endemic landbirds and 80,000 nesting seabirds including the critically endangered Abbott's Booby.

Linda Cash, Marketing Manager of the Christmas Island Tourism Association said in a recent visit to the British Birdwatching Fair held annually at Rutland: "We have a limited marketing budget so our Facebook campaigns offer us a great opportunity to share the wonderful birdlife on our island. We presumed our original advert was blocked automatically so we appealed to Facebook directly who reaffirmed the campaign was banned due to the sexual language - particularly the use of the word 'boobies'".

Sam Collins, founder of London based Ethos Travel, the first company to offer mainstream holidays to the island in the UK, says: "Christmas Island tourism is in its infancy, but there are few places in the world where you can find such a magical concentration of rare species of sea and land animals.

“Bird Conservation Week is one of the best times to visit the island and the economy there is becoming increasingly reliant on holiday makers from the UK and the rest of Europe. By blocking the tourist boards campaign, one of the world's great eco-tourism destinations is being deprived of its lifeline because someone at Facebook cannot comprehend that a Booby is a bird. Dare I say it, but with so many Boobies to see, it is like all your Christmases come at once."

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