In a concerning revelation, a report by Media Matters for America has exposed how Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and Threads, has allowed an anti-LGBTQ+ group, Gays Against Groomers, to disseminate hate speech and misinformation on its platforms for more than a year, in clear violation of its own policies. The report showcases numerous instances where this group posted false and derogatory content about LGBTQ+ individuals, including claims that falsely portray transgender people as mentally ill and pedophilia-related accusations, along with spreading misinformation about gender-affirming care.
Meta’s Failure to Enforce Policies Despite Meta’s explicit policies against hate speech, harassment, and misinformation, the content shared by Gays Against Groomers has continued to exist on the company’s platforms, with no apparent moderation or enforcement. Even though Meta pledged to label false information and deprioritize it in users’ feeds, these promises have gone unfulfilled when it comes to Gays Against Groomers’ posts. This issue is particularly glaring on Instagram, which has a well-documented history of inadequately moderating harmful content, especially those targeting the LGBTQ+ community.
Concerns and Criticism Media Matters research director Kayla Gogarty expressed concerns about Meta’s approach, citing the recent changes in enforcement on platforms like Twitter. She highlighted the disbandment of Twitter’s Trust & Safety Council as an example of a concerning trend in the tech industry. Gogarty noted that this may be seen as a signal by companies like Meta to reduce their vigilance against hate speech and harmful content.
The Problematic “Gays Against Groomers” The name and mission of Gays Against Groomers seem to inherently violate Meta’s hate speech policies. In July 2022, Meta confirmed that baseless accusations of “grooming” aimed at LGBTQ+ individuals fall under its prohibition of hate speech. Despite presenting itself as a “grassroots” child protection coalition, Media Matters revealed that key figures in the group have ties to right-wing organizations that have capitalized on anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment in recent years.
Meta’s Profits Amidst Controversy Notably, Meta has profited from advertisements promoting the false “groomer” narrative, despite publicly stating its opposition to such content. Reports indicate that Meta accepted significant sums for ads perpetuating this harmful narrative, raising questions about the company’s commitment to combating hate speech and misinformation.
As the LGBTQ+ community continues to face attacks and misinformation online, this revelation underscores the need for tech giants like Meta to take more proactive measures to protect marginalized communities and uphold their own content policies.