A controversial ad making claims about a hot-button sports issue has been banned after complaints it was missing context and could mislead people.
A controversial ad making claims about a hot-button sports issue has been banned after complaints it was missing context and could mislead people.

‘Extreme’ and controversial sport advert banned

A conservative political action committee has slammed an "absurd" decision by Facebook to ban an election ad that attacked transgender girls participating in school sports.

The ad from the American Principles Project takes aim at incumbent Michigan Democratic Senator Gary Peters and presidential nominee Joe Biden over their support for the Equality Act, a wide-ranging LGBTQ rights bill.

Republicans have focused on the fact that the bill would allow transgender students to compete on school sports teams based on their gender identity.

The controversial issue is currently the subject of several court battles in the US.

"All female athletes want is a fair shot at competition, at a scholarship, at a title, at victory," the ad's voiceover says.

"But what if that shot was taken away by a competitor who claims to be a girl but was born a boy? Senator Gary Peters and Joe Biden support legislation that would destroy girls' sports. They call it equality. Really? That's not fair. Not fair at all. Vote against Gary Peters and Joe Biden. They are too extreme for Michigan."

According to the APP, which is spending $US4 million ($5.5 million) on the campaign, Facebook initially applied a "missing context" warning label before blocking the ad outright.

"Full-on censorship," the group tweeted on Tuesday.

The notice from Facebook warned viewers that "independent fact-checkers at PolitiFact" had found information in the post "is missing context and could mislead people".

In her article, PolitiFact's Clara Hendrickson wrote, "Their specific criticism is that allowing transgender girls and women to compete on the basis of their gender identity would create an uneven playing field for student (athletes) and ultimately end girls' and women's sports. That's a prediction we can't fact-check."

But Hendrickson argued that supporters of the bill "dismiss" the argument that transgender girls "have physical competitive advantages over girls and women born female".

"There may be individual success by particular trans athletes just as there are with any athletes," Neena Chaudhry from the National Women's Law Center told the website.

Ms Chaudhry noted some transgender girls and women had won competitions while others had performed worse, and in any case, "women's sports hasn't ended".

The APP said it was considering appealing the decision.

"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," APP executive director Terry Schilling said in a statement.

Mr Schilling said there was "ample evidence" for the claim that the policies in question "would destroy girls' sports" and "nothing in the PolitiFact review shows this claim to be false".

"Yet Facebook has nevertheless decided to declare that our ad might 'mislead people' because it is 'missing context'," he said.

"Apparently they believe the ad will only be fair if we also include the leftist 'arguments' against us. Do we now need pre-approval from Democrats before we run ads critical of their policies? This is an absurd standard - one which Facebook obviously doesn't hold the other side to."

Facebook spokesman Andy Stone replied, "This content was reviewed by PolitiFact, an independent, third-party fact-checking partner of Facebook's. If you'd like to dispute the rating, we'd encourage you to do so directly with them."

frank.chung@news.com.au

Originally published as 'Too extreme': Controversial ad banned



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