Facebook starts removing some, but not all, misleading PrEP ads

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NEW YORK — Facebook has reportedly start to remove some misleading ads promoting lawsuits over PrEP usage.

Last month, a coalition of LGBTQ and HIV organizations called on Facebook to take down ads claiming inaccurate side effects of Truvada for PrEP.

A statement from the organizations said the ads were run by law firms, claiming problems like kidney disease and low bone density and that they were pushing people away from using the prevention method.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that Facebook had started quietly removing the ads, saying it was in reaction to the criticism the company had received.

The newspaper reported that Facebook had retroactively lableled the ads as rule violations, limiting visibility. The company’s fact-checkers reportedly concluded the ads were misleading and lacked context.

However, GLAAD and PrEP4All found that many other similar ads are still running on Facebook products. 

“It’s gratifying to see one of Facebook’s fact-checkers backing up the overwhelming consensus of AIDS, LGBTQ, and HIV medical groups that these ads are misleading. But the question remains – why is Facebook taking money from these ambulance-chasing law firms for ads that are helping the spread of HIV?” said Peter Staley, a cofounder of the PrEP4All Collaboration, said in a press release. 

“Removing select ads is a strong first step, but the time is now for Facebook to take action on other very similar ads which target at-risk community members with misleading and inaccurate claims about PrEP and HIV prevention,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO. “Dozens of organizations have told Facebook that the safety and effectiveness of PrEP to prevent HIV transmission is unequivocal. The pervasiveness of these ads and the subsequent real world harm should be catalysts for Facebook to further review how misleading and inaccurate ads are allowed to be targeted at LGBTQ and other marginalized communities.”

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