Facebook on Wednesday removed the “Pseudoscience” option for advertisers who wants to target audiences based on the category which was still available on the platform up until this week even though the social network giant had been making efforts to curb off misinformation about the Covid-19 pandemic.
The company is reported to have removed this category from it’s “detailed targeting” list on Wednesday according to a spokesperson from the company after tech news site The Markup showed that it could advertise a post targeting people interested in pseudoscience.
The MarkUp was able to demonstrate that Facebook was allowing such ads that promotes misinformation and unapproved drugs despite the company vowing to stop misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic on its platform. More than 78 million Facebook users were interested in “pseudoscience,” it said, citing the company’s ad portal. There have been numerous misinformation about the Coronavirus pandemic from conspiracy theorists and Facebook isn’t just the only place where these misinformation are spreading as they also spread across Twitter and YouTube.
Advocacy group Avaaz reported last week that a sample of 104 coronavirus-related pieces of misinformation content on Facebook analyzed by the group had reached over 117 million estimated views. Another data gathering organization, ProPublica showed that the category “pseudoscience” was added to users as far back as 2016.
Facebook said it will continue to fight off those misinformation on its platform and curb off the spread of any unapproved information about the COVID-19 claims which could cause “imminent physical harm” to people who are engaging with the purported cures being spread across the platform. The company also offer link to the official website of the World Health Organization in places of these misinformation.
The company has also banned exploitative tactics in ads and banned ads for medical face masks, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes and COVID-19 test kits.
Consumer Reports however did a test this month of April which showed that Facebook was still approving ads containing coronavirus misinformation which also includes false claims that the virus was a hoax or that people could stay healthy through small daily doses of bleach.