Facebook Axes Political Ad Stating Transporters Will “Destroy Girls’ Sports”
A political ad targeting transgender people’s participation in high school sports has been disapproved of by Facebook as a paid advertisement and will be labeled with a “fact-check” label if posted organically on the social platform.
The move comes after LGBTQ rights groups condemned the ad, along with two others run by the conservative American Principles Project and PolitiFact, an independent fact-checking project within the nonprofit Poynter Institute, said the sports ad in particular said ” context is missing and “could mislead people.”
The ad shows a male runner easily winning a race against female competitors in an obvious blow against transgender inclusion guidelines while seeking support from Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., For the Equality Act, which the ad says would “destroy girls’ sport”.
The Equal Opportunities Act, passed in the House of Representatives but not getting a vote in the Senate, aims to amend existing state civil rights laws to include gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination in employment, housing, public housing, jury services, education, federal programs and credit.
The sports ad is part of a larger $ 4 million campaign by the Michigan-based American Principles Project (APP) that featured two additional ads denouncing access to gender-equitable health care for people under the age of 18.
Currently, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health recommends professional diagnosis prior to puberty suppression or hormone replacement therapy for minors with gender dysphoria.
Facebook confirmed to NBC News that the ad could no longer serve as a paid advertisement due to the evaluation by independent external fact checkers. The ad can still be placed organically, but has a fact-check label.
Paul Dupont, a spokesperson for APP, told the group it needed to “change the ads to get them back on the social platform” – both as paid ads and organic posts with no “fact check” labels. He told the group did not “get guidance on which changes would add the necessary ‘context’ they supposedly lack”.
Gillian Branstetter, a transgender attorney and spokeswoman for the National Women’s Law Center, told NBC News that the ad was part of a larger “misinformation campaign against trans youth” that existed on social media platforms such as Facebook. Given the reach of the platform for billions of people worldwide, Facebook has a responsibility to prevent people from being directed to dangerous information that could be harmful to young people researching their gender identity and their parents.
“Of course, it’s a good thing they took the extra step of challenging this particular ad with its false claims and misleading nature,” said Branstetter. “It is hoped that Facebook will take greater responsibility for a wider range of anti-transmis information present on their platform, including, and in particular, lies about health care related to the transition.”
The Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest LGBTQ rights group, praised Facebook’s decision to label organic posts on the ad with a “fact-check” label, saying the app “misrepresents the transgender community”.
“While this is a great first step, we will continue to communicate with Twitter, YouTube and other social media platforms to ensure that APP and its misleading ads are flagged as misinformation or completely removed,” said campaign president Alphonso David said.
High school sports have become a nationally conservative topic of conversation after the families of three Connecticut high school girls were sued in federal court for blocking transgender people’s participation for denying scholarships to cis women. The regulations that allow transgender high schoolers to participate in sports teams that match their gender identity vary from state to state, according to TransAthlete.com.
Idaho, for example, recently passed a law banning transgender high school students from participating in school sports based on their gender identity, but a federal judge issued an injunction to stop the law from going into effect as it is being challenged in court.
A number of conservative groups say transgender girls have an innate advantage in sports because they are male at birth, despite the National Collegiate Athletic Association and International Olympic Committee rules that allow trans athletes to compete without restriction after medically suppressing testosterone levels.
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