Following an accusation that it presented LGBT users with ads for gay conversion therapy, Facebook wrote on Twitter Wednesday that it “quickly removed” the controversial content.
As reported in a Telegraph investigation, multiple members of the LGBT community said they encountered ads on Facebook, including one that promoted a book called “Help for men with same-sex attraction” and another titled “Homosexuality Was My Identity.”
Facebook uses an algorithm to match users with relevant ads, the Telegraph reported, and some users said the social media site showed them the conversion therapy advertisements because of their interest in “gender issues.”
Alistair Ryder, who is gay, said that “it’s pretty irresponsible” for Facebook to show LGBT people an ad that says they can be “fixed,” according to the Telegraph.
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“I don’t think I was targeted for any specific reason, aside from being gay,” he reportedly told the outlet. “But out of the people I know who I’ve asked, I’m the only person who has been targeted with this ad.”
On Wednesday, Chelsea Clinton tweeted out an article about the incident, writing that gay conversion therapy is “child abuse.”
“There are not two sides to this question,” she wrote, “and these ads — and the practices they promote — should be illegal everywhere. Full stop.”
Facebook responded, writing that ads about gay conversion therapy are not supposed to be permitted on its platform.
“We removed these ads after further review,” the tweet from Facebook said. “While we may miss some, we’re working hard to make sure we quickly find and take down bad ads.”
A spokesperson for Facebook told TeenVogue in a statement that it doesn’t directly target LGBT people with ads. However, “advertisers can target people with LGBTQ-related interests,” the spokesperson reportedly wrote.
A study from The Williams Institute estimates that in their lifetimes, nearly 700,000 LGBT people in the U.S. have undergone gay conversion therapy, which seeks to make a person’s gender identity or sexuality match whatever is seen as the cultural “norm.”
That study also found that another 20,000 underage LGBT people are likely to go through the therapy before they turn 18.
Fourteen states and Washington, D.C., have made gay conversion therapy illegal for minors, according to the Movement Advancement Project.
The American Psychological Association said in 2009 that the practice is “unlikely to be successful” and may “involve some risk of harm.” That risk includes an increased chance of suicidal thoughts or actions and feeling depressed, the APA noted.