Facebook made over half a million dollars over the last year in advertising revenue from anti-LGBTQ hate groups despite its anti-hate speech policy, according to an analysis by Sludge.
Sludge found that Facebook took in a total of $1.6 million in ads from 38 groups labeled as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). $541,977 of this spending came from groups specifically labeled as anti-LGBTQ.
This spending covers the period from May 2018 onward, meaning the totals could actually be much higher.
Most of the anti-LGBTQ revenue came from the Alliance Defending Freedom, which has linked homosexuality to pedophilia and claimed that a “homosexual agenda” will destroy Christianity and society. This group accounted for $392,000 of the revenue.
Facebook has been able to profit off of these groups, whose ads call undocumented immigration an “invasion” and LGBTQ people “evil,” despite banning hate speech “because it creates an environment of intimidation and exclusion and in some cases may promote real-world violence.”
“This is an astounding amount of money that’s been allowed to be spent by hate groups,” Keegan Hankes, interim research director of SPLC’s Intelligence Project, said. “It reaches a lot of people with some very toxic ideologies. Obviously that’s incredibly worrisome, if not a little unsurprising given Facebook’s track record specifically around these ideologies.”
“The ideologies… that have been allowed to spend this money on the platform are the exact ideologies we see Facebook fail to take seriously again and again,” Hankes continued. “From my perspective, Facebook is much more willing to take action against these toxic ideologies when it’s politically expedient – as in when it will not result in criticism from mainstream conservatives. And these are the exact ideologies that have a lot of traction in mainstream conservatism right now.”
This is not the first time Facebook has been criticized for their policies. The social media giant banned the discussion of sexual preferences and positions, labeling it as “sexual solicitation,” last year. LGBTQ-themed ads were also being blocked and flagged as “political” last year due to a new advertising policy.