End the duopoly

Instagram Rejects a PrEP Awareness Campaign; Claims It Contains ‘Politics’

In a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg defended his decision to allow political ads on his platform, even those that contain lies and other misinformation.

“I just think that in a democracy people should be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying, and I think that people should make up their own minds about which candidates are credible and which candidates have the kind of character that they want to see in their elected officials,” he said when pressed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, per Vox.

This might sound like paid political content has free reign on his platforms, which include Facebook subsidiary Instagram, but Zuckerberg apparently does draw the line somewhere: public health campaigns for queer communities of color. Apicha Community Health Center—a primary care center in New York City that offers a variety of medical services to underserved communities like Asians and Pacific Islanders (API), LGBTQ people, and individuals living with and affected by HIV/AIDS—attempted to run an ad campaign on Instagram promoting public awareness about PrEP, a drug that significantly reduces the risk of HIV transmission, among API men who have sex with men, only to have it rejected on the grounds that the center “hadn’t been authorized to run ads about social issues, elections or politics.”

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“They said the copy was the problem but were unable to tell us what part of the copy was too political,” said Phillip Miner, Apicha’s Director of Grants and Communications, in a phone interview with VICE on Friday morning. “It’s incredibly frustrating to encounter these sort of road blocks.”

Instagram did not respond to VICE’s request for comment.

Just over a million people are living with HIV in the United States today, according to the CDC, and the annual number of new cases in the U.S. has remained relatively stable since 2012—the same year that the FDA approved Truvada for use as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted HIV by 99 percent.

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