Facebook Finally Decides to Remove False Ads about PrEP

Discussion in 'Mental, Medical and Sexual Health' started by OckyDub, Jan 3, 2020.

  1. OckyDub

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    Facebook has quietly begun removing a series of controversial ads concerning an HIV-prevention drug from its platform, reversing a decision from earlier this month after activists and politicians called for the platform to fact-check the ad to avoid serious public health consequences.

    "After a review, our independent fact-checking partners have determined some of these ads in question mislead people about the effects of Truvada. As a result we have rejected these ads and they can no longer run on Facebook," a Facebook spokesperson told Business Insider.

    The ads, posted by personal injury lawyers, claimed that the HIV-prevention drug Truvada had harmful side effects. They called for Truvada users to join lawsuits against the drug's manufacturer, Gildead Sciences.

    But LGBTQ+ advocate groups stressed that Truvada is proven to be highly effective in clinical trials and in federal testing. The advertisements could scare away at-risk HIV negative people "from the leading drug that blocks HIV infections," said an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg posted on the GLAAD website in early December. The letter was signed by more than 50 groups, including LGBT advocate and public health activists, and called for Facebook to remove the advertisements from the platform.

    Facebook for months has faced a steady stream of criticism its decision to not verify the claims made in political ads that run on its social networks. But its resistance to removing advertisements that suggested the negative health effects of the HIV-prevention drug Truvada PrEP led to accusations that it was prioritizing profits over public health safety.

    In the letter on GLAAD's website, LGBTQ+ advocates pointed out the public health risks of "factually inaccurate advertisements which suggest negative health effects of Truvada PrEP."

    And Facebook's initial inaction drew fire from people including 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren.

    "Facebook is allowing entities to target misleading and false ads about HIV prevention drugs to LGBTQ+ communities and others. This can have serious public health consequences. Facebook needs to put the safety of its users above its own advertising profits," the senator from Massachussetts tweeted.

    GLAAD commended Facebook's decision to remove the ads in a press release, but cautioned that similar ads still existed on platform. LGBTQ+ health advocates quoted in the release also questioned Facebook's motives in allowing the ads to be posted onto the platform in the first place.

    "The time is now for Facebook to take action on other very similar ads which target at-risk community members with misleading and inaccurate claims about PrEP and HIV prevention," GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in the press release.

    "The question remains – why is Facebook taking money from these ambulance-chasing law firms for ads that are helping the spread of HIV?" Peter Staley, a cofounder of the PrEP4All Collaboration, also said in the press release.
     
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