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Facebook has made more than $500,000 promoting anti-LGBT hate groups since 2018

Nick Duffy September 27, 2019
Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg has vowed to tackle hate speech, but the company is taking millions from listed hate groups

Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg has vowed to tackle hate speech, but the company is taking millions from listed hate groups (Photo: GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty)

Facebook has made more than half a million dollars in advertising revenue from listed anti-LGBT+ hate groups in just over a year, according to reports.

Analysis of Facebook’s advert transparency data by Sludge revealed that the social media giant took a total of $1.6 million from groups defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center extremism watchdog as hate groups.

A total of $541,977, just under a third of the total hate group ad spend, came from organisations designated as anti-LGBT+ hate groups.

The spending only covers the period from May 2018 when the company began to publish some data on ad spending, meaning the total spent by the groups could be far higher.

Ads branded LGBT+ people ‘evil’ and promoted anti-LGBT lawsuits.

One advert from anti-LGBT+ Christian group The American Vision, shown to thousands of people, linked to a blog post that referred to gay people as “evil”.

Anti-LGBT+ hate group Alliance Defending Freedom, which has advocated for the criminalisation of homosexuality and led efforts to unpick state anti-discrimination laws, accounted for a massive $392,000 of the spending.

The group is currently running ads in support of business owners who have refused to serve LGBT+ people, claiming they “face punishment for living out their faith”.

Other ADF ads target transgender people, claiming: “Men don’t belong in women’s sports”, while one shown to at least 50,000 people asks: “Should government bureaucrats and judges have the power to redefine ‘sex’ to mean ‘gender identity’ in federal law?”

Anti-LGBT+ hate group Family Research Council, which has spent $107,000 on Facebook ads, has openly conflated gay people with paedophiles, claiming: “While activists like to claim that paedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two. It is a homosexual problem.”

Another video advert from FRC’s lobbying PAC, shown to more than a million people, features an “ultimate social justice warrior” dressed in a gender fluid outfit, tackling conservatives and yelling “this is a safe space!”

FRC Action ran an ad mocking a 'social justice warrior' that was shown to more than a million people
FRC Action ran an ad mocking a ‘social justice warrior’ that was shown to more than a million people

The group also paid for at least 500,000 impressions of an ad on the page of its president Tony Perkins appearing on Fox News, where he urged president Trump to appoint an ultra-conservative to the Supreme Court ahead of his nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.

Anti-LGBT+ groups rack up ‘astounding’ Facebook ad spend.

Keegan Hankes of SPLC told Sludge: “This is an astounding amount of money that’s been allowed to be spent by hate groups.

“It reaches a lot of people with some very toxic ideologies. Obviously that’s incredibly worrisome, if not a little unsurprising given Facebook’s track record specifically around these ideologies.”

“The ideologies [being promoted] — specifically anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti LGBTQ — that have been allowed to spend this money on the platform are the exact ideologies that we see Facebook fail to take seriously over and over again.”

Hankes added: “These are the exact ideologies that have a lot of traction in mainstream conservatism right now.”

A Facebook spokesperson told the outlet: “We continually study trends in organised hate and hate speech, and work with partners to better understand how they evolve.

“We are reviewing the content flagged and taking action against any posts or ads that violate our policies.”

More: Advertising, anti lgbt, Facebook, hate groups, southern poverty law center

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