For the spiritually-inclined who rely on cosmic guidance from digital horoscopes or tarot card readings, a viral claim that social media platforms are banning such metaphysical content was universally interpreted as a bad omen.
TikTok user and self-described “true crime astrologer” @cosmic_drugz said in a Feb. 13 video that a change to digital advertising tools would “ban” astrology, horoscope and tarot content from TikTok, Instagram and Facebook effective March 17.
“These social media platforms are beginning to take the necessary steps in order to ban [astrology or tarot] content altogether,” she said.
Are Facebook, Instagram and TikTok banning astrology and tarot content?
- Meta, the company that owns Facebook and Instagram
- Tarosophy Tarot Association
No, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok aren’t banning astrology and tarot content.
WHAT WE FOUND
Representatives for Facebook, Instagram and TikTok confirmed the platforms aren’t banning astrology and tarot content, a claim that appears to stem from a change in some online advertising features.
Facebook and Instagram no longer allow most advertisers to target customers based on certain topics, including some related to spirituality, but that update doesn’t prevent tarot or astrology content from being posted on the platforms, according to company statements.
Tarosophy Tarot Association, a professional group for Tarot card readers, also addressed the alleged ban in a post on Feb. 15, calling it “misinformation” spun from an incorrect understanding of the ad targeting changes.
“As far as we know so far this is not specific to tarot nor is it specific censorship or a lead-up to ‘banning’ tarot - or anything else,” the post said.
On Nov. 9, 2021, Meta announced the changes in question, which affect a tool called “ad targeting.” Ad targeting allows brands and individuals who advertise on Facebook and Instagram to tailor campaigns to specific groups of people based on user data.
For example, a business could choose to target potential customers based on categories like location, age, or their hobbies and interests.
But in November 2021, Meta said some of the more specific categories available in the ad targeting feature could be “used in ways that lead to negative experiences for people in underrepresented groups.”
For that reason, the company announced it would remove some identifying ad targeting categories that “people may perceive as sensitive,” along with other less popular or redundant terms.
This change does not affect the content or topic of the ad itself, but rather the types of people the advertisers can target with their campaigns.
The memo includes the following examples of user categories that would no longer be available for new ads beginning Jan. 19, 2022:
- Health causes (e.g., “Lung cancer awareness”, “World Diabetes Day”, “Chemotherapy”)
- Sexual orientation (e.g., “same-sex marriage” and “LGBT culture”)
- Religious practices and groups (e.g., “Catholic Church” and “Jewish holidays”)
- Political beliefs, social issues, causes, organizations, and figures
Another update from Meta said existing ads that target the retired categories would be allowed to run until March 17. After that, affected users would see recommended alternative categories when possible.
“The decision to remove these Detailed Targeting options was not easy and we know this change may negatively impact some businesses and organizations,” Meta said in the November announcement.
@cosmic_drugz, who did not respond to a request for comment, specifically highlighted the ad targeting categories “astrology,” “horoscope,” and “tarot,” as terms allegedly affected by the change.
Meta did not respond to a question about whether these specific categories were removed, but a spokesperson confirmed to VERIFY that the changes to ad targeting affected some spiritual and religious topics.
However, many ad targeting topics related to astrology are still available and people can continue to create advertisements and other posts related to those subjects, the company said.
But what about TikTok?
A spokesperson for TikTok told VERIFY the company also has not banned astrology or tarot content. As for the advertising changes, TikTok won't be affected because it’s a separate platform that's owned by a different company.
“TikTok does not prohibit this type of content (as long as it does not violate one of our Community Guidelines). #astrology on TikTok has +32B views and #tarot has +18B views and counting,” the spokesperson said.
So we can VERIFY that no, astrology and tarot content are not being banned from Facebook, Instagram or TikTok.