Facebook admits to blocking gay adverts

Dozens of LGBT+ adverts have been blocked by Facebook, according to an investigation by The Washington Post.

Posts promoting everything from transgender rights in the Philippines to an article about LGBT+ people making fun of their straight counterparts have been affected, along with a number of local queer organisations.

The social media giant, which has already faced accusations of queer erasure this week after deleting the long-established Naked Boys Reading page, said that in the majority of cases, its censoring was accidental.

Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers his speech during the VivaTech (Viva Technology) trade fair in Paris, on May 24, 2018. (Photo by GERARD JULIEN / AFP) (Photo credit should read GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty)

“The ones that were incorrectly labelled have been removed from the archive and we apologise for the error,” the half-trillion-dollar company’s spokeswoman Devon Kearns told The Washington Post.

“We do not consider all ads that relate to LGBT under this policy, but rather only those that advocate for various policies or political positions, which several of these ads do.”

Some of the posts taken down because they were “related to politics and issues of national importance” and didn’t include a “Paid for” label were promoting local groups like the LGBT Centre Orange County, Montgomery County LGBT Business Council, Coalition for Aging LGBT – TEXAS, and Seattle Gay Families.

This was one of the seemingly harmless ads blocked by Facebook (LGBT Centre Orange County/facebook)

Other seemingly inoffensive pro-equality submissions from pages like LGBT Pride, Out for Health: LGBT Health & Wellness Programme and LGBT Fertility were also removed, according to Facebook’s Ad Archive.

A blocked post advertising a survey from The Equality Fund (omaha community foundation/facebook)

One post, from the popular Bisexual.org page, was simply wishing a happy birthday to bi actress Sara Ramirez, who came out after leaving her role as Callie Torres on Grey’s Anatomy, which is the longest-running LGBT+ character on TV ever.

The page, which has more than a million followers, tried to submit the post twice, with no luck.

It is unclear what was wrong with this birthday post (bisexual.org/facebook)

Marsha Bonner, a queer motivational speaker, told The Washington Post about how her advert for a conference about LGBT+ people of colour was taken down earlier this year, asking: “Why is this community considered a political community?

“Immigrants are political. LGBT is now political. African Americans are political. Asian Americans are political. Where does this stop when all we’re trying to do is live our lives?”

Earlier this year, Buzzfeed reported Facebook quietly blocked ad targeting by sexual orientation, preventing LGBT+ organisations from reaching their target audience.

Last year, PinkNews reported that Facebook was taking money from evangelical gay ‘cure’ activists who used the social network’s ad tools to target LGBT+ people and claim they face “eternity in hell.”

A screenshot from the Anchored North advert (Anchored North/Facebook)

US-based evangelical group Anchored North, self-described as “next-generation evangelists,” used Facebook to aggressively target “evil sinners” – including gay people, women considering abortion and atheists – with online ad campaigns.

And in August, it was revealed that Facebook had targeted LGBT+ users with ‘predatory’ gay cure adverts which promoted “sexual purity.”