San Francisco (AFP) - Facebook on Friday said it is banning content that promotes "conversion therapy," which is based on the unfounded notion that gays can change their sexual orientation through psychological or spiritual intervention.
Facebook and its image-centric social network Instagram are updating policies to require removal of content that directly promotes conversion therapy when such posts are flagged by users, according to the California-based internet giant.
The move is an extension of an existing ban on ads that promote the tactic, which medical experts consider ineffective and often harmful.
"We don't allow attacks against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity and are updating our policies to ban the promotion of conversion therapy services," a Facebook spokesperson said in response to an AFP inquiry.
"We are always reviewing our policies and will continue to consult with experts and people with personal experiences to inform our approach."
Conversion therapy "interventions" include electric shock, food deprivation and chemically-induced nausea, the American Medical Association has said in a report.
Empirical evidence demonstrates that sexuality and gender identities in people vary naturally, with the idea of "conversion" a misconception, the report said.
Such "sexual orientation change efforts" not only don't work, they may cause significant distress, the AMA said, citing a study showing they caused depression, anxiety, alienation, and other ill effects.
Another study cited by the AMA found that nearly 30 percent of people who underwent conversion therapy reported suicide attempts.