Facebook removes misleading HIV lawsuit ads

Facebook removed misleading advertisements regarding HIV drug plaintiffs after critics argued that providing a platform for such content endangers public health, according to a report from The Washington Post.

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Advocates from HIV/AIDS prevention, LGBTQ and health groups co-signed an open letter in December through the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s website, which urged Facebook to pull the ads.

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Facebook briefly allowed law firms to post misleading ads about Truvada for PrEP. (GLAAD)

The ads in question were published by various law firms seeking clients for potential personal injury lawsuits over side effects from the pre-exposure HIV prescription medication, Truvada for PrEP, developed by biotechnology company Gilead Sciences.

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Facebook initially declined to remove the ads, however, the company finally followed through on the letter’s request after a third-party fact-checker Science Feedback agreed that the ads contained misinformation.

“Some of the ads in question mislead people about the effects of Truvada,” a Facebook spokeswoman told The Washington Post. “As a result, we have rejected these ads and they can no longer run on Facebook.”

Truvada for PrEP is a medication used for HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), and is key in managing the disease's prevalence. (Marc Bruxelle)

In a published verdict, Science Feedback wrote that law firms were overstating the adverse side effects associated with Truvada for PrEP.

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“The removal of select ads is a strong first step given the findings of Facebook’s own fact-checking agency and the dozens of organizations that spoke out," said Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of GLAAD. “Time is now for Facebook to take action on other very similar ads which target at-risk community members with misleading and inaccurate claims about PrEP and HIV prevention.”

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“We join calls to have any misleading advertisements related to Gilead’s HIV medications removed from Facebook," Amy Flood, a senior vice president at Gilead said in a statement sent to FiercePharma regarding the issue.

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