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Facebook, Instagram Ban Content Promoting LGBT Conversion Therapies

(Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

Facebook and Instagram have started to ban content promoting LGBT conversion therapies, including user posts.

The ban applies to practices that seek to change a person’s sexual orientation from gay or bisexual to heterosexual. On Friday, an Instagram public policy director told the BBC that the controversial content will no longer be allowed, starting this week.

“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,” an Instagram spokesperson said in a statement. “We are always reviewing our policies and will continue to consult with experts and people with personal experiences to inform our approach.”

The change will also apply to Facebook, which owns Instagram. Earlier this year, the platforms banned the promotion of conversion therapies in ads. 

The new policy arrives as calls in the UK are growing for the local government to ban conversion therapies as a criminal offense. In 2018, the country pledged to outlaw the practices, but no official action has been taken. In the US, conversion therapies directed toward minors have been banned in 20 states. 

The big question is how strictly Facebook and Instagram will enforce the ban when conversion therapy groups tend to have religious affiliations. To this day, civil rights activists argue Facebook in particular has been slow to stop hate speech and misinformation circulating over the platform. However, company executives, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg, have said the company wants to avoid policing free speech. 

Instagram told the BBC the blanket ban will take time to implement. So user accounts and groups devoted to conversion therapies might continue to remain visible, for now.

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