Tyler Merritt, CEO of Nine Line Apparel of Savannah, Georgia, and a retired Army captain, simply wants to help others — particularly those who have been impacted in Florida by Hurricane Ian.
Yet his ability to raise money for needy people through sales of his company’s “Florida Strong” T-shirts has been rejected by Facebook, he said.
Appearing this week on “Fox & Friends,” Merritt said, “We want to support Florida. We want to show a commitment to rebuild in this incredible devastation that Ian’s left behind.”
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And yet — he said he’s been hindered from doing so on social media, he said on the program.
“I think we were representing what every American wants to do out there,” he said of trying to advertise his business on Facebook in order to help other people.
“We’ve done this before with many other natural disasters, to come to aid physically and to bring cash and resources,” he said.
“We’re actually had boots on the ground as of [earlier this week], working with the community cooperative, handing out generators, handing out fuel. And everyone loved these shirts,” he added of the “Florida Strong” T-shirts his company has been selling.
“They asked, ‘Why can’t I find them? Why can’t I see them?'”
Added Merritt, “The issue is a longstanding issue. There are algorithmic programs that Facebook has said that flag certain products, that flag certain advertisements, individuals — and they hinder that.”
Merritt said of Facebook, “They have you reach out to them and say, ‘Hey, would you please allow this advertising to go forward?’ It doesn’t actually make mention of any political individual initiative, but most of the time it falls on deaf ears, or we do not get responses.”
There appears to be a “trend” that anything seeming to be “conservative” gets flagged by the social media giant, according to Merritt.
Merritt noted there seems to be a “trend” that anything appearing as “conservative” gets flagged by the social media giant.
He said that he and his team reached out to Facebook “and asked, ‘Hey, we spend millions of dollars, we’re a small business, you know. I do need to understand the left and right limits, as you or your policies have a never-ending change. But, but it seems that there is a trend that anything that is deemed conservative gets flagged, gets hindered and gets stopped.'”
Said Merritt, “And to date, I have not been able to reach out to an individual until [the past few days], when I got a phone call late in the evening asking how could Meta come and help our company, which is the first time” he said he’s heard from the company.
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Merritt added that he and his colleagues had been trying to reach “a human being at Meta for the last year, ever since we were flagged and banned from the platform because of advertisements that they deemed inappropriate five, six years ago.”
Fox News Digital reached out to Meta for comment.
A Meta spokesperson said on Saturday in a statement to Fox News Digital, “In this case, the advertiser marked the ad political in nature when submitting it for approval. Running such ads requires prior authorization, and because the advertiser had not gone through the process, the ad was rejected.”
The spokesperson added, “Given that the ad is in fact not a political ad, all the advertiser needs to do is submit the ad again without marking it political.”
Cars are shown submerged in a flooded street in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian on Sept. 29, 2022 in Orlando, Florida.
Said Tyler Merritt during the “Fox & Friends” segment, “There is an algorithm out there that is targeting organizations like ours, in my opinion — and there’s no individual that we can reach out to.”
He said he finds this “horrible, especially now we’re trying to come together and saying, ‘Hey, let’s go help our friends in Florida.'”
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The company notes on its Facebook page that it was “founded by two Army captains and brothers with multiple combat deployments. Nine Line is an apparel company that gives back to America!”
Merritt, the CEO, is also founder of Nine Line Apparel, a military-inspired apparel company based in Georgia. He’s a veteran and entrepreneur, a philanthropist and a family man, as Fox News Radio recently reported.
Nine Line Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, as its website explains.
Meta also indicated to Fox News Digital on Saturday that an advertiser may submit the ad again on Facebook without selecting that it is about social issues, elections or politics — and that it should be approved at that time.
This article has been updated to reflect statements from Meta.