The tech giant Facebook has slapped on fact-check on an anti-transgender ad ran by the American Principles Project that seeks to stoke fears during the presidential election transgender athletes would “destroy girls’ sports.”
David Kearns, a Facebook spokesperson, confirmed to the Washington Blade via email the tech company had placed a fact check on the ads, citing determinations from Politifact and its third-party checking program.
“Our third-party fact-checkers have rated this content which means it is not allowed to run as an ad and any organic posts will receive a label,” Kearns added.
According to Facebook’s ad library, the American Principles Project spent between $2,000 and $2,500 to run the ad, which was shown entirely in Michigan to criticize Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) for co-sponsoring the Equality Act and Joe Biden for supporting the legislation. The ad has received 60,000 to 70,000 impressions.
“All female athletes want is a fair shot at competition, at a scholarship, at a title, at victory,” the ad claims. “But what if that shot was taken away by a competitor who claims to be a girl but was born a boy? Sen. Gary Peters and Joe Biden support legislation that would destroy girls’ sports.“
The ad builds on a campaign by social conservatives to thwart LGBTQ rights — in this case the Equality Act, which would ban anti-LGBTQ discrimination under federal law — by raising fears about transgender kids participating in girls’ sports.
Based on these fears, Idaho has enacted a law barring transgender girls from taking part in school sports, although a federal judge has blocked the state from enforcing the law.
The American Principles Project ads — which were among several anti-transgender ads that in various ways stoke about transgender kids and transitioning — began airing shortly after a Politico piece ran revealing a divide in the Trump campaign on whether or not to stoke fears about transgender people a wedge issue in the presidential election.
Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement the American Principles Project is a “hate group” and commended Facebook for its action.
“APP wants a future where LGBTQ people can be fired, denied housing, refused business services or health care solely because of who they are,” David said. “But we will continue to hold them accountable and expose their lies.”
Last week, the Human Rights Campaign called on Facebook to take down the anti-trans deceitful ads or label them as the misinformation. Meanwhile, requests in with other tech companies running similar ads are still pending, David said.
“While this is a great first step, we will continue to dialogue with Twitter, YouTube, and other social media platforms to ensure that APP and their misleading advertisements are labeled for the misinformation they are or removed entirely,” David said.
Terry Schilling, executive director of the American Principles Project, decried the decision by Facebook in a statement.
“Today, Facebook caved to a pressure campaign by far-left activists, effectively censoring our effort to inform voters about Democrat threats to women’s athletics,” Schilling said.
Schilling pointed out nothing in the Politifact assessment determined the ad was false, adding the American Principles Project is seeking more information from Facebook and will seek options to appeal.
This article originally appeared in the Washington Blade and is made available in partnership with the National LGBT Media Association.