LGBTQ groups accuse Facebook ads of spreading misinformation about HIV drugs


A coalition of 50 LGBTQ, HIV/AIDS and public health groups on Monday sent a letter to Facebook accusing the social media giant of allowing ads to run on the platform with dangerous misinformation about HIV prevention drugs.

The ads, run on Facebook and Instagram by what seem to be personal-injury lawyers and entities affiliated with them, claim inaccurate side effects of Truvada for PrEP, a preventative pill.

The law firms are allegedly using Facebook’s ad programs to target gay and bisexual men who use the drug to join a lawsuit claiming negative side effects from the pill.

The ads “are convincing at-risk individuals to avoid PrEP, invariably leading to avoidable HIV infections,” according to the groups.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, PrEP “reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99% when taken daily.”

The groups, including GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign and The Trevor Project, wrote in the letter that they had already contacted Facebook about the ads.

Rich Ferraro, GLAAD’s communications director, said in a statement to The Hill that Facebook and its third-party fact checkers “have yet to provide any information about how or why they believe these ads are accurate.”

“Over 50 experts on AIDS and public health have provided research studies and first-hand knowledge that PrEP is safe, effective, and should be used by people who want to protect against HIV transmission,” he continued.

The groups are now urging the social media giant to “immediately remove the advertisements” and commit “to a review and potential update of current advertising policies to prevent false or misleading public health statements from reaching users.”

The letter addressed to Mark Zuckerberg cites the CEO’s statement during his testimony before the House Financial Services Committee in October that “if anyone, including a politician, is saying things … that [are] calling for violence, or could risk imminent physical harm… we will take that content down.”

A spokesperson for Facebook told The Hill that the ads do not violate its policies.

“We value our work with LGBTQ groups and constantly seek their input,” they said.

“While these ads do not violate our ad policies nor have they been rated false by third-party fact-checkers, we’re always examining ways to improve and help these key groups better understand how we apply our policies.”

–This report was updated at 2:35 p.m.

Tags Facebook Facebook advertisements HIV/AIDS Mark Zuckerberg

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