As the transgender community has been increasingly targeted with harmful rhetoric and legislation, Meta has permitted and even profited from over 550 anti-trans ads from The Daily Wire, a right-wing media company that has a history of bigotry against LGBTQ people, earning at least $5.7 million in the process.
During a speech on March 4, the third day of the 2023 Conservative Political Action Conference, The Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles claimed that “transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely — the whole preposterous ideology at every level.”
This harmful comment from Knowles comes as right-wing media, particularly Daily Wire personalities, have been ramping up their anti-LGBTQ rhetoric for months, with a specific focus against trans people. Knowles and others at The Daily Wire, including Candace Owens and Matt Walsh, have repeatedly attacked the trans community, while right-wing legislators simultaneously targeted their rights in the last year.
The Daily Wire has spent over $5.7 million on at least 558 ads on Meta’s platforms from June 4, 2018, through March 4, 2023, amplifying anti-trans content from its media personalities and other anti-trans rhetoric. These ads have run from the outlet's own page, as well as four pages of its personalities, and have garnered over 172 million impressions, according to data from the Dewey Square Adwatch tool set.
Some of these ads seemingly violate Meta’s policies against hate speech and “inflammatory content in ads,” which ban “claims that a person or a group of people is a threat to the physical safety, health or survival of others on the basis of their personal characteristics.”
The vast majority of Daily Wire’s spend on anti-trans ads (93%) has come since March 2022. Over 470 of The Daily Wire’s ads — which cost over $5.4 million — promote Matt Walsh’s anti-trans film (and book) What is a Woman? The ads earned over 149 million impressions. A majority ran on Walsh’s page (321 ads), followed by The Daily Wire’s own page (95 ads) and Ben Shapiro’s page (52 ads).
The Daily Wire’s most recent ad campaign promotes a brand of chocolate created by The Daily Wire in reaction to Hershey’s recent Canadian ad campaign that features a trans woman. In the last week, Daily Wire has spent over $88,000 on these ads, earning over 6 million impressions.
Additional ads from The Daily Wire containing harmful anti-trans rhetoric include:
- An ad from Candace Owens promoting a Daily Wire article about Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, a teenager, “embrac[ing] her femininity.” The ad declares, “I'm so glad she escaped the trans madness that has destroyed so many children's lives.”
- An ad promoting a clip from Shapiro’s show in which he attacks Disney for “left-wing radicalism.” In the clip, he says that the company is stupid to “mirror the woke priorities of its most radical employees” who want to teach children their own “propagandistic beliefs about falsities about gender.”
- An ad from Walsh’s page promoting an article about a study and claiming that “anyone who makes the claim that social contagion isn't a factor in the explosive growth in transgenderism is either ignorant or willfully lying.” In fact, as NBC reported, the study concludes the opposite: “‘Social contagion’ is not driving an increasing number of adolescents to come out as transgender.”
- Another ad from Walsh claiming that “in the fight to defend children from radical gender activists, we are putting real wins on the board.” In the video featured in the ad, Knowles says that “the transgender stuff, it’s just demonic” and Shapiro says that “gender-affirming care is a euphemism.” The video ends with Walsh saying that “we have made sexual indoctrination of children and medical child abuse enormous national issues” and text claiming that the Daily Wire is “fighting for your kids today and every day.”
Meta has a long history of prioritizing profits over the safety of the LGBTQ community. Previous reporting by Media Matters showed that the compaby profited from over 200 ads using the “groomer” slur, even though the platform confirmed that slandering LGBTQ people as “groomers” violated its hate speech policies.