The anti-corruption news site Sludge claims that Facebook has made nearly $1.6 million in selling ad to hate groups who call LGBTQ people “evil” and undocumented immigrants an “invasion. This has occurred even though Facebook’s official policies forbid hate speech on their platform.
“From May 2018, when Facebook began publishing its archive of political and social advertisements, to September 17, 2019, at least 38 hate groups and hate figures, or their political campaigns, paid Facebook nearly $1.6 million to run 4,921 sponsored ads.”
While anti-immigrant groups made up 59% of the reported ad sales ($958,988), anti-LGBTQ groups spent the second greatest amount on ads — 33.8% ($541,977) — followed by anti-Muslim groups.
The two largest anti-LGBTQ advertisers are Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) who bought $392,000 in ads, and the Family Research Council (FRC) who bought $107,000, including $6,850 in ads bought from its president Tony Perkins’ page.
Both ADF and FRC have been designated as hate groups that “malign” the LGBTQ community by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Because Facebook only began publicly releasing this ad information in mid-2018, Sludge predicts that the company’s overall profits from hate groups over the years is likely much much larger.
Keegan Hankes, interim research director of SPLC’s Intelligence Project, told Sludge:
“From my perspective, Facebook is much more willing to take action against these toxic ideologies when it’s politically expedient—as in when it will not result in criticism from mainstream conservatives. And these are the exact ideologies that have a lot of traction in mainstream conservatism right now.”
Facebook has tried to take steps to more proactively detect and block hate speech on its platform, but a 2017 ProPublica investigation showed that the massive social network has “uneven enforcement of its hate speech standards” by “focusing on individual posts, not on the accounts that do the posting.”
As such, Facebook profits off the hate spread on its platform and generally allows it when the hate is veiled in “softer” language or comes from politicians.