Tech companies need to do more to protect LGBT youth from harmful conversion therapy lies



The rebranding efforts have had some success, “as search results show, the terms ‘reintegrative therapy,’ which claims that sexuality change is not the goal—but the happy result—of trauma treatment, and ‘same-sex attraction,’ which supposes being LGBTQ+ is a curable condition, lead almost exclusively to unauthoritative and harmful disinformation,” GPAHE said. “Other proponents hide behind a so-called religious imperative or under the guise of protecting children.”

The report said that while “Google, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and to some extent YouTube, have taken steps to curtail conversion therapy information,” the latter remains a huge problem. “YouTube’s search mechanism returns disinformation and propaganda more frequently than Facebook or Twitter, and the platform is rife with pro-conversion therapy material.” 

Media Matters has previously noted how YouTube has allowed anti-LGBT hatred to fester on its site, despite having a hate speech policy. “Prominent conservative pundits on YouTube have regularly used the platform to harass and misidentify trans people, including targeted misgendering of kids, parents, and public figures,” the report said. In just one example, right-wing propagandist Ben Shapiro singled out a trans child for harassment. Media Matters said the video has more than 1 million views on the platform.

The reports (both are available to read in full here) come as Canada has implemented a law banning debunked conversion therapy. In the U.S., “all leading professional medical and mental health associations reject ‘conversion therapy’ as a legitimate medical treatment,” the American Medical Association said in 2019.

GPAHE said it has sent “the report to all of the tech companies and will follow up with each company over the coming months. The tech companies must take appropriate steps to protect their users, especially teenagers and young people, from health disinformation, hate speech, and conspiracy theories, as they have pledged to do.”

“Tech companies say they have taken steps to ban harmful content related to conversion therapy, but they have to do more, especially in non-English languages,” GPAHE president and co-founder Wendy Via said. “Until online searches lead people to only authoritative information about the dangers of conversion therapy, tech companies are complicit in spreading anti-LGBTQ+ hate and disinformation that causes mental and physical harm for individuals, and furthers societal harm.”


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