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Christiaan Colen on Flickr/Creative Commons

Facebook is allegedly targeting young LGBT users with ‘gay cure’ adverts

A new investigation exposes a flaw with the platforms micro-targeting algorithm

Facebook was found to be targeting young LGBT users by promoting “gay cure” adverts.

In an investigation led by The Telegraph, it was discovered that, based on the Facebook pages that users had shown an interest in, users had reported seeing ads that were promoting elements such as “sexual purity” and gay conversion therapy.

According to The Telegraph, two conversion therapy adverts found in the investigation were directed to young LGBT people.

In one case, Facebook user, Tessa Ann Schwarz, was shown a video titled ‘Homosexuality Was My Identity’, which promoted conversion therapy simply because she had liked LGBT pages on Facebook.

Another advert endorsed a book by an evangelical conversion therapist titled ‘Help For Men With Same-sex Attraction’ was promoted to young people who were reportedly interested in gender issues.

It should be pointed out that Facebook's policies for advertisers declares that adverts must not “engage in predatory advertising practices or contain content that discriminates against, harasses, provokes or disparages people who use Facebook or Instagram.”

Facebook has since removed the posts amid The Telegraph’s investigation.

“This content is offensive and an insidious attempt to undermine the self-esteem of LGBT people seeing this material”, said Paul Twocock, the Director of Campaigns, Policy and Research at Stonewall.

“There's clear evidence of the damage conversion therapy does to LGBT people's health and wellbeing, and the British Government are committed to eradicating it in the UK. We urge Facebook to take swift action to remove content advertising the practice.”

A spokesperson for Facebook told the Telegraph: “We have rejected these ads and they are no longer running on Facebook.”