Facebook removes ads for gay conversion therapy after backlash

by Mary Elizabeth Williams
August 31, 2018


At least Facebook didn’t try to justify its latest blunder as “free speech.” In what’s become a near weekly event now, the embattled social media platform has come under fire yet again, this time for reportedly targeting users with ads promoting “sexual purity and conversion therapy.”

An investigation in the UK’s Telegraph uncovered the issue, reporting that users who’d expressed interest in LGBTQ and gender issues had seen ads for “Help For Men With Same-sex Attraction” and a conversion therapy promotion titled “Homosexuality Was My Identity.” A user who saw one of the ads called the message “shaming and hatred masked as love.” The company says that the messages showed up as the result of a “micro-targeting” algorithm.

Facebook issued a statement Thursday stating, “We do not allow ads that promote gay conversion therapy or that imply personal attributes about people, like their sexual orientation. We quickly removed these ads after further review. While enforcement is never perfect, we’re always working to find and remove ads that violate our policies.” The Facebook spokesperson added that while “sexual orientation is no longer an available filter, advertisers can target people with LGBTQ-related interests.”

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