Facebook Rejects a PrEP Awareness Campaign because of ‘Politics’, but Allow Politicians to Post Lies
Apicha Community Health Center wanted to run advertising on Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) to promote public awareness of PrEP, a drug which can prevent HIV transmissions.
Despite Facebook’s newly-relaxed rules around political advertising, the New York-based centre – which serves people of colour and the LGBT+ community – was told that it could not run the adverts because it “hadn’t been authorised to run ads about social issues, elections or politics”.
“They said the copy was the problem but were unable to tell us what part of the copy was too political,” Phillip Miner, Apicha’s director of grants and communications, told Vice.
Since PrEP was introduced in the US in 2012, rates of HIV transmissions among white, black and Latinx men who have sex with men in New York has fallen almost consistently. But among Asian and Pacific Islanders (API) men, the number of new cases has remained stubbornly static.
In an attempt to change this, the Apicha Center’s Instagram account has been posting content created by and featuring API men which talks about PrEP.
It wanted this content to form the basis of a paid advertising campaign, which would have meant that API men who don’t follow its account would see the posts in their feeds.
Miner told Vice that Instagram offered to authorise the campaign if they could authorise every employee who uses its social media accounts through Facebook. This wasn’t possible due to privacy concerns for one member of staff.
Facebook allows lies in political adverts.
The Vice report comes days after Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was grilled by congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over the site’s decision to allow political advertising that includes lies.
The company quietly withdrew a policy of banning false claims in advertising – including in political advertising – in early October, sparking concerns that it could be used to deceive voters.
Zuckerberg appeared visibly shaken on Wednesday, October 23, as Ocasio-Cortez asked him whether she would be able to “pay predominantly black zip codes advertise them he incorrect election date” or “run advertisements targeting Republicans in primaries saying that they voted for the Green New Deal”.
Zuckerberg said that adverts which could cause census or voter suppression would not be allowed, but did not say whether mistruths would be taken down.
“So, you won’t take down lies or you will take down lies? I think that’s just a pretty simple yes or no,” Ocasio-Cortez asked.
In response, Zuckerberg obfuscated, citing “context”.
PinkNews has contacted Facebook for comment.