Facebook targeted young LGBT users with 'gay cure' ads

Facebook is under fire for targeting members of the LGBT community with advertisements for conversion therapy.

An investigation by The Telegraph has revealed an error in the site's algorithm which upset many over what seemed to be homophobic ads.

Companies have the ability to target their Facebook ads at users who, based on their past 'likes', are thought to be more likely to be interested in their products or services.

People from the LGBT community told The Telegraph that they saw ads promoting "sexual purity" and cures for homosexuality on their news feeds.

After clicking on the 'Why am I seeing this ad?' feature, they were told that those ads had been selected for them because they had previously shown an interest in "gender issues".

One ad, a video titled "Homosexuality was my identity", promoted conversion therapy, a widely condemned practice that attempts to 'cure' people of being gay.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May recently announced her Government would ban conversion therapy, and the New Zealand Government is facing pressure to do the same.

A young gay man says he was shown an ad for conversion therapy which promoted a self-help book titled Help for Men with Same-Sex Attraction.

"I think it's pretty irresponsible for Facebook to allow an advert that preys on gay men with mental health issues in such a negative way on their homepage," Alistair Ryder told The Telegraph.

"I don't think I was targeted for any specific reason, aside from being gay, but out of the people I know who I've asked, I'm the only person who has been targeted with this ad."

Facebook told The Telegraph that the ads were mistakenly shown to users due to a flaw in its "micro-targeting" algorithm, and it has since removed the offending ads.


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