Meta’s 18+ Puzzle - Reproductive Health and Uncomfortable Conversations

Meta, reproductive health, social media, women's health, content censorship, female anatomy, menstrual cycle, advertising policies, stigma, knowledge sharing, education, content creators, societal impact, awareness, gender equality, taboo subjects, online platforms, algorithms, discomfort, openness, information sharing, advocacy

The voices advocating for women’s reproductive health are speaking up, aiming to catch the attention of one tech giant, Meta Platforms and its algorithm, and they’re not too thrilled with how it has been dealing with reproductive health content.

Meta’s algorithm been under the microscope for a while now, with critics slamming the Facebook parent for giving reproductive health info the cold shoulder, for a while now.

Last year, the Center for Intimacy Justice dropped a report, accusing Meta of showing the door to a bunch of ads related to female and gender diverse reproductive health. The report, which also pointed fingers at Meta’s algorithms, claimed the company of waving in ads talking about the male side of things – even the ones diving into male pleasure.

Now, Meta tried to patch things up a bit last October. They did the spruced up policy approach about “adult products or services” to give the lowdown on reproductive health. The new deal was, they’re all for promoting “reproductive health products or services,” but only if the eyes on the screen are 18 or older.

Going back to our story. By now, you’re probably asking, “What is the giant doing?”

Well, nothing. Meta’s playing it cool, saying this is touchy territory. They’re juggling a global crowd with different backgrounds and cultures, so they’re trying to sidestep and avoid any ‘uncomfortable situation.’

But here’s why this is a big deal for women.

Experts on women’s reproductive health aren’t really accepting what Meta is doing, or even saying and selling with their publicized statements. To them, Meta’s policy is still putting the brakes on important info, especially the younger generations who need to know about matters such as the menstrual cycle – if we are to think about some of the girls that have to deal with menstrual cycles at an early age.

The problem, according to these experts, is that the hush-hush treatment of regular body functions adds to the stigma that’s been tagging along with understanding the female body for decades. 

Oh, and by the way, Meta’s not the only player in this game as other social media platforms have their own share of hiccups when it comes to women’s health content. Other health advocates have also shared their concerns of social media platforms not providing the right space to share their content online. 

But Meta’s algorithm is in the spotlight because it seems their attempts to fix things last year didn’t really hit the mark it promised us to hit. What it did was it tweaked it’s “adult product or services” advertising policies – we’ll get to that one. 

Allow me to say the following.

Ever since social media came to existence, there has been a noticeable shift towards greater openness and willingness to discuss previously taboo subjects, and this includes the female reproductive health. The rise of social media’s popularity has provided a platform for conversations that were once largely absent. Yet, despite all that, and even as society has become more accepting of these discussions, there appears to be a gap in how parent companies perceive and approach the potential broader societal impact and acceptance of these issues.

“The policy says that reproductive health is allowed, but in practice their technology is still rejecting it,” founder and CEO of the Center for Intimacy Justice, Jackie Rotman, told CNN. 

What’s more, it’s not just the paid ads taking a hit. Even regular folks trying to share info are feeling the squeeze from Meta’s algorithms. So, it seems that, more and more, that certain topics related to the female anatomy – which should be okay to be highlighted openly – is being pushed to the corner.

Even if Meta cleans up its act and follows its new policy to a T, there’s still a snag. They’re still saying reproductive health info is a grown-ups-only topic, even though it affects everyone with a female body, regardless of age.

When asked about reports that Meta ‘removes, restricts, and shadow-ban female reproductive health content’ and why menstrual information is tagged as an 18+ issue, a Meta spokesperson told CNN:

“We welcome ads for women’s health and sexual wellness products, but we prohibit nudity and have specific rules about how these products can be marketed on our platform.” 

This argument might work for the giant but the party on the other side of this conversation, disagrees, to say the least.

Parties creating content about women’s reproductive health are vocalizing their discontent with the way things are handled. Despite Meta’s attempt to silence content about women’s reproductive health. Women’s health advocates have expressed that Meta’s approach and R-rated censorship on such information is doing nothing but adding fuel to the fire and magnifying the common lack of knowledge on women’s reproductive health.

Time for our usual mental image. 

Imagine a world where young girls and women aren’t left in the dark about their own bodies. 

Imaging a world where the men aren’t left in the dark about the female reproductive health. Imagine if girls knew the ins and outs, the normal stuff, and when to ask for help. That’s what these content creators are pushing for – a world where knowledge is power. For both sexes.

To close, this whole deal isn’t just about Meta’s advertising rules. It goes deeper, touching on how society views women’s bodies, from politics to what gets taught in sex-ed. It’s about time we take the plunge and educate everyone about how bodies work before diving into the more grown-up stuff.

So, there you have it. Women’s reproductive health, the Internet’s game of cat and mouse.

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