Maria Walsh told by tech giants that homophobic ads targeting her were 'free speech'

When Maria Walsh contacted Facebook and Google about homophobic ads targetting her MEP campaign, she was told that the ads fell under "free speech".

Maria Walsh ads

MEP Maria Walsh is calling for an EU-wide strategy to tackle online gender-based violence following what she says was a digital ads campaign targetted at her during the European elections.

During an interview with EuroParlRadio, Walsh revealed that when she contacted Facebook, Google and Twitter regarding the slurs used in ads but was shut down straight away.

In an interview with EuroParlRadio, she said: “Only a few months ago, a website developed that was quite homophobic but was quite professional.

“We complained to Google, Facebook and Twitter and the domain holder itself — and what we got back, instantly, was that it was free speech.

“But yet it was homophobic slurs.”

The website claimed that she was pushing LGBT+ views “down the throats” of young people.

She added: “If I go into schools it is a Q&A talking about how to get our community reflecting in our politics and our politics reflecting on our community.”

Walsh is now involved in a new European Parliament initiative which will look at gender-based violence online which it is hoped will influence future EU policies.

Last year she told how she was targetted by a website which she says broadcasted ads on Facebook and Google which spoke about her “homosexual lifestyle”.

At the time Maria said: “Trolling and social media abuse increased tenfold based on the fact I’m now aligned to a political party. And I get that.

“But a lot of stuff is ridiculous. A lot of it is telling me my resume isn’t significant enough, I only won a beauty pageant and I’m famous for being famous and that’s not impressive for a CV.

“There are some mean comments out there. I’ve seen one comment about my body shape and my sexuality… keyboard warriors are alive and well.”

Facebook has been in the news several times over its approval of ads targetting the LGBT+ community.

In December 2019, 52 LGBT+ organisations called on Facebook to remove ads claiming that PrEP usage has adverse and harmful side effects.

The ads link PrEP usage to bone disease and kidney disorder despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stating that “no serious side effects have been observed.”

This ad campaign seems to have been started by personal injury lawyers and groups such as ‘Help for PReP & TDF Victims’. Since the adverts went up, it has been reported that they have been viewed “millions of times” last month.

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