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Facebook reportedly targeting young LGBT users with 'gay cure' adverts

A new investigation discovered users were seeing ads promoting 'gay cure' therapy.

2018-08-27

Facebook has been targeting LGBT users with "gay cure" adverts, a new investigation has found.

The Telegraph conducted an investigation into the social media giant and discovered that users had reported seeing ads promoting "sexual purity" and gay conversion therapy because of Facebook pages they had shown an interest in. 

After users clicked on the "Why am I seeing this ad?" term, they were told that Facebook had noticed they were interested in "gender issues". 

According to the Telegraph, two conversion therapy adverts the investigation had reported to Facebook were pushed to young, LGBT people.

 

One user, Tessa Ann Schwarz, was shown a video titled 'Homosexuality Was My Identity' which promoted conversion therapy because she liked LGBT pages on Facebook. Another advert promoted a book titled 'Help For Men With Same-sex Attraction'. Written by an evangelical conversion therapist, the book was promoted to young people who were reportedly interested in gender issues. 

The social media site has since removed the posts after the Telegraph's investigation exposed a flaw with its micro-targeting algorithm.

Paul Twocock, the Director of Campaigns, Policy and Research at Stonewall, told the Telegraph: "This content is offensive and an insidious attempt to undermine the self-esteem of LGBT people seeing this material.

 

"There's clear evidence of the damage conversion therapy does to LGBT people's health and wellbeing, and the British Government are committed to eradicating it in the UK. We urge Facebook to take swift action to remove content advertising the practice." 

Meanwhile, Facebook's policies for advertisers state that adverts must not "engage in predatory advertising practices or contain content that discriminates against, harasses, provokes or disparages people who use Facebook or Instagram". 

A Facebook spokesperson told the Telegraph: "We have rejected these ads and they are no longer running on Facebook."