London, England, Jan 15, 2013 / 00:02 am
Facebook must be called on to refuse abortion ads that target U.K. women, says a pro-life leader who warns the practice "threatens to further commercialize the killing of unborn children."
"Facebook advertising will only serve the abortion industry's money-spinning trade which hurts women through killing their unborn children," Anthony Ozimic, communications manager with the London-based Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, told CNA Jan. 14.
"A large body of opposition on Facebook itself is essential to get Facebook to take action," he said, calling on pro-life advocates to use their Facebook networks, pages and groups to "build up awareness of the ads and the objections to the ads."
His comments come after Willard Foxton, social media blogger for the British newspaper The Telegraph, reported that many British women found targeted ads for "an abortion provider near you" beginning on New Year's Day. The ad linked to a U.S.-based website that is a directory of doctors and facilities that offer "abortion care."
Foxton said some women reacted to the ad with humor, while others wondered what in their profile made Facebook's automated system decide to target them with the ads.
A Facebook spokesperson told Foxton that the social network's rules allow "advertising of post-conception advice services."
"Unlike other media, if people don't like an advert they see on Facebook they are able to dismiss it by clicking 'X' on the corner of the ad," the spokesperson said.
Foxton said he thought the ad was "seriously mistargeted" and could have cost the advertiser close to $5 U.S. dollars per click. "If I were Facebook, I think I'd tighten up the rules around who sensitive adverts like this can target," he wrote.
In his comments to CNA, Ozimic voiced even stronger objection to the presence of the abortion advertisements. "Facebook should no more carry ads for abortion than it should carry ads for infanticide," he said.
"What sort of culture are we handing on the next generation, where killing babies are offered alongside car insurance, or holiday packages, or wedding dresses?"
He charged that abortion agencies "mislead women." They tell them that their unborn babies are "just the products of conception" and that "abortion is not killing but simply ending a pregnancy," he said.
Ozimic said there is an "unfair playing field" in advertising favoring those who promote abortion over those who oppose it.
Pro-life pregnancy services in the U.K. are non-commercial and the costs of advertising on Facebook, mainstream newspapers, television and radio are too high. U.K. abortion groups, however, can "dominate advertising" with their income from private and government-funded abortion fees.
He said U.K. advertising regulators have previously shown "bias" against the pro-life movement.
Facebook's website says it allows advertisers to target ads to users "most likely to be interested in your product or service."
Ozimic said he was not surprised that the ads targeted specific users. He compared the targeting to the practice of locating abortion clinics in "poor, black areas of cities" in both the U.S. and the U.K.
He said that a boycott of Facebook would not be effective or well supported, but he predicted an awareness campaign on Facebook would have some success. He said users should "complain to Facebook directly."
CNA contacted Facebook to determine whether the ads run in the U.S. but did not receive a reply by deadline.