Sexual Health and Wellness Ads Face Discrimination: Clinic Client CIJ Urges the FTC to Take Action

An ad from company OhNut noting that it takes twice as long to get an endometriosis diagnosis than to sail around the world

The Cyberlaw Clinic was privileged to represent the Center for Intimacy Justice in a letter of complaint to the US Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), highlighting concerns about the discriminatory treatment of social media advertisements for sexual health and wellness products targeted at women and people of underrepresented genders, vis à vis those targeted at cis men. A level playing field is uniquely needed in the realm of sexual health, because these companies deliver critical information that is otherwise not widely available or discussed. The complete letter is available here.  The complaint focuses on Meta, which controls irreplaceable marketing networks for medium- and small-sized businesses. It presents evidence demonstrating that the application of Meta’s advertising policies on Facebook and Instagram systematically treats sexual health products and services directed towards women and people of underrepresented genders differently, resulting in the rejection of the ads and the banning of these companies from the platforms. To businesses of all sizes, rejected ads represent wasted resources. The Center for Intimacy Justice has documented myriad examples of companies being rejected for ads which explicitly meet Meta’s guidelines.

The complaint alleges that this conduct violates Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, because rejecting ads that facially comply with Meta’s posted policies amounts to an unfair and deceptive trade practice. The Center for Intimacy Justice respectfully requests the FTC to promptly and thoroughly investigate Meta’s advertising practices and take effective enforcement action.

Center for Intimacy Justice logoThe Center for Intimacy Justice is a non-profit social change organization committed to advancing equity and well-being in women and people of underrepresented genders’ intimate lives. Its advocacy work has been featured in the New York Times and many other venues. The Cyberlaw Clinic has represented the Center since 2020, and thanks the many talented and insightful Harvard Law School students who contributed to this effort.

Read the complaint letter here.

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