Facebook has blocked ads containing LGBTI material for being ‘political’.
Adverts for everything from a gay fairy tale cabaret in Las Vegas to a Spanish-language social group for Latino men were deemed political by the social media site’s monitors. This is despite none of them containing any form of advocacy or political views, according to The Washington Post.
This comes as Facebook tries to regulate the use of its site for political means after Russian-state actors were accused of using adverts to sway the 2016 US election and the UK Brexit vote. The site uses both automated and human monitors to filter out content.
Facebook’s new policy requires people using ads for political purposes register with the company. For this, the user would need to divulge a lot of personal information. This includes a driver’s license or passport, a personal home address, and the last four digits of a Social Security number.
However, their public database found that these innocuous LGBTI adverts were deemed ‘political’. This means they’d have to register with the company in order to post them. Many told The Post they didn’t know this option existed.
Facebook told the paper that the majority of these were made in error.
A shaky history with LGBTI people
Yet the company has taken steps recently that seem out of line with this desire to curb the use of politics on their site.
In August 2018, young LGBTI people were being specifically targeted by so-called ‘gay cure’ ads. When users clicked ‘why am I seeing this ad’, it said they had shown an interest in ‘gender issues’.
Once the news became public, the company took down the ad, blaming it on a mistake in the ‘micro-targeting algorithm’. However, it’s unclear how these ads were not considered political, as gay conversion therapy is illegal in many places around the world.
They also blocked and subsequently reinstated an anti-gay group on their site.
‘We are against Pinkdot in Singapore’, a group of people who oppose Singapore’s annual pride event, Pink Dot, were removed for violating the community standards.
However, the group was put back up. A Facebook spokesperson claimed that the page should not have been removed entirely, only some of its posts.