Facebook has faced scrutiny regarding its hate speech policies that have gotten even more intense recently. In response, this weekend, the social media giant announced one immediate change to its advertising guidelines: It will no longer accept ads for conversion therapy. The new rules will affect both Facebook and its subsidiary, Instagram.
About the Practice
Conversion therapy is a discredited, pseudo-scientific practice that claims to help “convert” a person’s sexuality. The practice usually takes the form of a camp or a retreat, typically for young people, who are taught how to ignore homosexual thoughts and urges. But the painful, traumatizing consequences of the practice are well-documented. Fittingly, several major medical associations have condemned conversion therapy as harmful.
Despite the detrimental and questionable effectiveness of the practice, conversion therapy is still legal in parts of the US and in the UK. One British group, called Core Issues Trust, has used Instagram to promote its mission of “converting” gay youth. Facebook has received a flood of appeals from the Instagram community, asking them to banish Core Issues Trust from the platform. Now they have done it.
Banned from the Platform
On Saturday, Instagram’s public policy director Tara Hopkins announced that Facebook platforms would no longer allow the promotion of conversion therapy.
“We don’t allow attacks against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity and are updating our policies to ban the promotion of conversion therapy services,” Hopkins said in a statement. “We have removed violating content from @coreissuestrusttv. We are always reviewing our policies and will continue to consult with experts and people with personal experiences to inform our approach.”