Instagram cracks down on posts promoting conversion therapy

Facebook's image-based social media platform Instagram is cracking down on conversion therapy content, declaring that it will ban any content that promotes this unscientific practice. The platform's policies are being updated to include a global ban on any posts promotes or otherwise advertises conversion therapy, Instagram has confirmed.

The pseudo-scientific practice known as 'conversion therapy' is often religiously motivated and typically involves unfounded, often harmful activities that attempt to change the victim's sexuality. Major health and psychology associations have denounced the practice, which is illegal in some places.

Activists have been calling on Instagram to ban conversion therapy promotion on the platform following population attention directed at Core Issues Trust, the account belonging to a religious UK-based non-profit. According to the non-profit's website, it advocates for, among other things, 'Change Oriented Therapies' that are based on a model called 'Sexual Attraction Fluidity Exploration in Therapy,' stating that it rejects the 'caricature' that this qualifies as conversion therapy.

At the time of this article's publication, Core Issues Trust's Instagram and Facebook accounts are still live on the platforms. The Facebook account shows content related to, for example, testimonies from 'former homosexuals' and other content promoting the idea that someone's sexuality can be changed.

Instagram told CNN that the company is updating its policies on hate speech to ban the promotion of conversion therapy services — it's unclear how broadly the company may define what counts as promotions of such services, however.

Instagram says that it removed violating content from the Core Issues Trust account; the account still features many posts featuring 'X-Out-Loud' and speakers on topics like 'strategies for transforming unwanted same-sex feelings' and testimonies from those 'freed from homosexuality.' The remaining posts indicate that Instagram is narrowly defining what counts as the promotion of these services, leaving questionable content on the platform.

There is a ray of light, however, in that Instagram says it will stop promoting posts that feature conversion therapy-related content like the aforementioned testimonials. This builds upon the company's previous ban on advertisements related to the promotion of conversion therapy.