Instagram rejected these PrEP ads for being ‘political’


instagram prep ad political facebook hiv
Photo: Instagram

Instagram has come under fire for rejecting an ad promoting HIV medication PrEP, deeming it political advertising.

PrEP is a once-daily tablet that has been found to be 99% effective at reducing the risk of HIV transmission in HIV-negative people.

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Over the years and worldwide, it has dramatically reduced the rates of HIV infection among hundreds of thousands of users.

The sexual health ads came from Apicha, a US community centre dedicated to the health and wellbeing of “underserved or ‘otherized’ people.”

The centre relies heavily on social media to reach the community for health promotion. So naturally, it was disappointed when Instagram rejected its ad promoting the prevention of HIV among Asians and Pacific Islanders.

“You haven’t been authorized to run ads about social issues, elections or politics,” the Instagram notification said.

Phillip Miner, Apicha’s Director of Grants and Communications, said obstacles like these can be irritating.

“It’s incredibly frustrating to encounter these sort of roadblocks,” Miner told Vice.

“They said the copy was the problem but were unable to tell us what part of [it] was too political.”

Miner also said this isn’t the first time Apicha has had its ads blocked by a social media platform.

He said Twitter had previously rejected the campaign before, but often due to policies on adult content. Apicha appealed the rejection and ultimately had the decision reversed.

“Social media platforms are the easiest way for us to reach [audiences],” Miner said.

“To have [those] platforms create these barriers when government entities have given us resources to reach communities at risk is really hindering national the goal of ending the HIV epidemic.”

New HIV diagnoses are disproportionately higher among queer men of colour.

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Facebook Inc owns Instagram

However the PrEP ad rejection comes only weeks after Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg made controversial comments to the House Financial Services Committee.

He was put on the spot about Facebook running false ads. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez questioned Zuckerberg about why Facebook runs ads containing falsehoods.

“Do you see a potential problem here with a complete lack of fact-checking on political advertisements?” she asked.

Zuckerberg replied saying it is the politician’s responsibility to be truthful in their advertisements.

“I think lying is bad, and I think if you were to run an ad that had a lie in it, that would be bad,” he said.

But Zuckerberg also said running false statements is a necessity in democracy.

“In most cases in a democracy, I believe that people should be able to see for themselves what politicians…are saying and judge…for themselves,” he said.

Asked about the blocked PrEP ads, Facebook spokesperson told the Guardian, “We allow ads that promote health care services on Facebook.

“We require extra steps before ads can run if they also advocate for or against certain social issues, like equal access to health care.

“We saw bad actors abuse these kinds of topics in 2016.

“While we don’t want to create unnecessary obstacles for people, we think it’s important to increase transparency to better protect elections on Facebook.”

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