Instagram, Facebook Ban Conversion Therapy Content and Advertisements
Instagram and its parent company Facebook will ban any content or advertisements related to conversion therapy, after calls from activists to remove Core Issues Trust, a U.K. based organization that promotes the practice. Instagram also says the ban is worldwide, and a part of its efforts to expand its global hate speech policies.
Conversion therapy is a pseudo-scientific process intended to change the sexuality/gender identity of queer individuals, and currently, there are no laws that curtail conversion therapy in India. In May, a young bisexual woman died by suicide after being forced to attend conversion therapy, sparking conversations around legally curtailing the practice.
“We don’t allow attacks against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity and are updating our policies to ban the promotion of conversion therapy services,” Tara Hopkins, Instagram’s public policy director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said, according to CNN. Instagram will now strictly regulate positive testimonials about conversion therapy, support of the practice, and advertisements. Only content related to conversion therapy in a legislative context will be allowed on the platform.
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Facebook has recently faced heavy criticism for its lax hate-speech policies and tepid responses to criticism. Recently, the company finally acknowledged the need for change after high-profile companies backed out of advertising on the social media site. C.E.O Mark Zuckerberg announced policies that included a ban on false and hateful political content, in response to the advertiser boycott.
Banning content about conversion therapy is a positive step, but Instagram still continues to have vague ideas of what violates community standards and what doesn’t. For example, model Bella Hadid recently posted a photo of her father’s passport stating she was proud to be Palestinian. Instagram later took it down, citing ‘bullying, harassment, graphic, or sexual nudity’ — which makes absolutely no sense. Poet Rupi Kaur has previously spoken about Instagram censoring her content around menstruation. Instagram is also known to show excess enthusiasm for censoring female nipples in specific — sparking the #FreeTheNipple movement.
Meanwhile, the company’s response to vicious harassment, abuse, and actual hate speech, occurs at a glacial pace. Though Instagram remains committed to fighting hate on its platform, perhaps a stricter, more sincere, more coherent stance is necessary.