Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, said its policies prohibit any reference to LGBTQ people being “groomers,” a term for would-be child rapists that conservatives have applied to LGBTQ people and allies – especially teachers and doctors – this past year.
The slur has increasingly been used by conservatives to oppose LGBTQ content in schools and gender-affirming care for transgender youth, leading to an increase in threats and harassment.
However, Facebook has continued to make money from at least 150 ads using the slur, even though the media watchdog group Media Matters alerted Meta to the issue. These ads have been seen over one million times, Media Matters reported.
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On September 6, Media Matters told Meta about 134 ads using the slur. Meta removed only 40 of the ads from their platform. Now, Media Matters has discovered 19 more ads using the slur. Collectively, the advertisers paid Meta $13,600 to display these ads.
One ad, purchased by the conservative student group Turning Point USA featured a tweet from conservative pundit Candace Owen stating that she has “no patience for this child groomer movement.” The ad read, “Protect your kids.”
Another ad from The Dallas Express, one site of many in a right-wing propaganda network, purchased an ad referring to the anti-trans group “Gays Against Groomers” as an “an organization against the sexualization, indoctrination, and medicalization of children.”
New Jersey’s Holmdel Republican Party ran an ad asking people to support political candidates who “publicly state their opposition to the States [sic] new sex education curriculum which sexualizes our children to advance the agenda of groomers.”
Yet another ad by Republican Illinois state senate candidate Philip Nagel featured him stating that he is “fed up and pissed off with the sick perversion that is being pushed on our children” by “a political class full of pedophiles and groomers.”
Meta has also allowed several ads falsely linking LGBTQ rights to “the supposed normalization of pedophilia in society.”
Kayla Gogarty, deputy research director at Media Matters, told The Daily Dot that Meta’s policies against the slur don’t apparently matter.
“Those are just empty words when we see them turn a blind eye to the anti-LGBTQ rhetoric on their platform,” Gogarty said. “It’s really just another instance of Meta putting profit and engagement over the safety of its users.”