Meta criticised for failing to regulate against anti-LGBTQ+ group Gays Against Groomers

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A media watchdog has blasted Meta for failing to moderate content posted by the controversial anti-trans organisation Gays Against Groomers. 

In a report issued on Tuesday (26 September), Media Matters for America criticised Mark Zuckerberg’s company for failing to crack down on the group on Facebook, Instagram and Threads. 

The group espouses extreme right-wing politics and seeks to ban gender-affirming care for minors, LGBTQ+ content in schools and Drag Queen Story Hour.  

The report claims that Gays Against Groomers continues to thrive on Meta platforms despite appearing to violate user policies by posting misinformation about trans people and spreading the anti-LGBTQ “groomer” slur and conspiracy theory. 

It also notes that Meta remains one of the few social media companies not to have already removed or suspended the organisation from its platforms. 

By contrast, Google has banned the group, while it was suspended from Twitter, now called X, a number of times for policy violations, prior to Elon Musk’s acquisition of the site.

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“Meta has allowed anti-LGBTQ group Gays Against Groomers – which falsely frames itself as a grassroots coalition that wants to protect children, but is actually composed of experienced right-wing grifters – to push false narratives about LGBTQ people on its platforms, particularly Instagram,” the report reads. 

“Facebook, Instagram and Threads are some of the few mainstream platforms that have not banned Gays Against Groomers, even though the group seems to have repeatedly violated the platforms’ policies, including by repeatedly promoting the anti-LGBTQ ‘groomer’ slur, claiming trans people have mental and moral deficiencies and spreading misinformation that’s been debunked by third-party fact-checkers. 

“Instagram, in particular, has a history of failing to moderate harmful accounts despite Meta’s anti-hate speech and harassment policies. 

“Attacks have often targeted LGBTQ people, whom Meta has repeatedly claimed it is committed to supporting.” 

Examples of such posts include the group saying on Instagram that “LGBTQ people ‘are actively grooming kids into the Rainbow Cult’,” describing a TikTok video of children dancing with Pride flags as an “indoctrination ceremony” and attacking retailer Target for “pushing LGBTQ+ clothing and products on children” during Pride Month. 

Most social media companies have removed Gays Against Groomers from their platforms, but Meta have so far failed to do so.
(Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

The report further states that the group is consistent in pushing the notion that trans people’s identity is a mental illness. 

“Trans is the new emo, except instead of growing out of that phase with just a bad haircut, these kids will be left sterilised and missing body parts,” one such post reads. 

The group has also said that the Nashville school shooting in March, which was carried out by Audrey Hale, who used he/him pronouns, is evidence that trans people are a “monstrosity of a movement” and the shooter was one of its “savage foot-soldiers” who “openly encourage bloodshed”. 

Is Meta taking cues from Elon Musk?

“It’s an age-old problem that we’ve seen with Meta,” Kayla Gogarty, a deputy research director at Media Matters, told The Advocate.

“One of my biggest concerns is that they’re seeing Elon Musk’s kind of backsliding on enforcement and things like that [and] they’re seeing that almost as a permission structure for them to also backslide.”

A Meta spokesperson told PinkNews: We want to make sure our platforms are a safe and inclusive space for the LGBTQIA+ community ​​and we work hard to allow people freedom of voice, while ensuring we minimise harm.

“We have a long history of engaging with global LGBTQIA+ community groups, stakeholders and advocacy organisations, and when we identify content that violates our policies, we take appropriate action.”

A spokesperson for LGBTQ+ advocacy organisation GLAAD said: “All social media companies should enforce their own policies. All the platforms have policies which clearly prohibit anti-LGBTQ hate content, and such policies exist for a reason: to protect all users from being targeted by, or exposed to, content that diminishes their safety, or that negatively impacts the usability of the platform.”

The groomer trope is “dangerous hate speech” which has been “popularised to foment fear and hatred, and ultimately violence, against LGBTQ people and the LGBTQ community”, they added.

“This is in direct violation of the hate speech policies of all major social media platforms and it is causing real-world harm.”