This week, Facebook came under fire after a series of complaints from LGBTQ+ users claiming they were being shown conversion therapy and “gay cure” ads in their feeds. One user claimed an ad for a self-help book called Help for Men with Same-Sex Attraction popped up on his timeline, according to a report from the Telegraph.
Other users claim they were shown ads and videos for conversion therapy, claiming to “cure” homosexuality and changing a person’s sexual orientation. Telegraph reported that a source saw a video pop up from a networking site titled Homosexuality Was My Identity from the religious group Anchored North.
When users clicked on an option to find out why they were being shown those ads, they were told that it was because they showed interest in “gender issues.” These reports led to the conclusion that the Facebook algorithm had been used to target LGBTQ+ youth with harmful ads for services that would “fix” them.
The issue was pushed further into the public spotlight when Chelsea Clinton retweeted an article with the comment below:
Facebook responded to her post by saying they do not allow gay conversion therapy and quickly removing them from their site. Their statement is as follows:
“We removed these ads after further review. While we may miss some, we’re working hard to make sure we quickly find and take down bad ads.”
Conversion therapy is a very real concern in the United States. Only 14 states and a few municipalities have banned medical conversion therapy while religious conversion therapy is legal across the US. A study from the Williams Institute estimates that nearly 700,000 LGBTQ+ people in the US have already undergone gay conversion therapy and that another 20,000 underage youth will likely go through therapy before they are 18.
h/t: Telegraph, Facebook