- Facebook is facing criticism once again for its advertising policy.
- An open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was published Monday on GLAAD’s website, and it’s signed by over 50 major groups. The letter demands Facebook remove a series of “factually inaccurate advertisements which suggest negative health effects of Truvada PrEP.”
- Truvada PrEP is a prophylactic that protects against HIV. If taken daily, it’s very effective at preventing contraction of HIV.
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For months, Facebook has faced consistent blowback for its decision not to fact-check political ads.
But this week, Facebook is facing a new critique of its ad policy: The issue is “factually inaccurate advertisements which suggest negative health effects of Truvada PrEP,” according to a letter published Monday on GLAAD’s website.
The letter is signed by over 50 groups involved in LGBTQ advocacy, public health, and HIV/AIDS prevention, including three groups that directly advise Facebook on LGBTQ issues: the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, and The Trevor Project.
At issue is a series of ads run by law firms on Facebook that the letter says contain false information about the HIV-prevention drug Truvada.
Truvada is proven to be very effective in clinical trials and in federal testing.
The ads, which have been viewed millions of times, are intended to recruit gay and bisexual men who take Truvada. The law firms running these ads claim the drug has harmful side effects and are looking for Truvada users to join lawsuits against the drug’s maker, Gilead Sciences.
The ads are “scaring away at-risk HIV negative people from the leading drug that blocks HIV infections,” the letter says.
Though GLAAD and other groups have pushed Facebook to remove the ads “for months,” according to The Washington Post, the social media giant has refused to do so. The letter is an effort to bring public attention to the ads and their potentially dangerous impact.
It’s also a direct call to action, with specific demands.
It demands that Facebook and Instagram “immediately remove the advertisements,” that Facebook’s advertising policy is clarified around ads that contain misinformation, and that the company review its current ad policies.
A Facebook representative told Business Insider that it was “examining ways to improve,” but insisted the ads did not violate the platforms’ ad policies “nor have they been rated false by third-party fact-checkers.”
The company did reportedly get in touch with HIV patient advocate Peter Staley on Monday, according to a report in The Washington Blade. Staley said that Facebook’s director of external affairs, Lindsay Elin, contacted him to say the discussion was ongoing.
“I think we got their attention,” he said.