Recently, it appears that Instagram has attempted to ban PrEP ads directed at gay and bisexual men because they are “too political”. The site is owned by Facebook, which has recently been in the news for allegedly making it a matter of principle to accept political ads, even if those ads are problematic and/or untrue.
Apicha Community Health Center is a New York City-based health care provider that works primarily with people of color, LGBTQ people, and people living with HIV. The organization attempted to place an ad campaign on Instagram to help raise awareness about the benefits of PrEP, the medication regimen that, if taken as directed, has been shown to be 99% effective in preventing the transmission of HIV.
However, Apicha was told that they were not allowed to put up any ads that have anything to do with “social issues, elections, or politics.” Despite being told this, the ad campaign can still be viewed on Apicha’s Instagram feed, as it has not been made clear to them what part of their ads are “too political.”
“They said the copy was the problem but were unable to tell us what part of the copy was too political,” Apicha’s Phillip Miner told Vice. “It’s incredibly frustrating to encounter these sort of road blocks.”
Miner went on to say that they have encountered the problem of social media platforms rejecting a few of their ads before, but they usually cite their written policies regarding adult content. The campaign was initially rejected by Twitter for “adult content” reasons, but Apicha was able to appeal and get the decision reversed.
These incidents come just about a week after Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg appeared before the House Financial Services Committee and was heavily grilled by numerous representatives, including New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, regarding numerous false statements in many of the political ads that are allowed to be run on Facebook. Zuckerberg responded that his company’s belief in democracy is what drives his company’s willingness to accept such ads on the platform.
“In most cases, in a democracy, I believe that people should be able to see for themselves what politicians that they may or may not vote for are saying and judge their character for themselves,” he said.