Even as Mark Zuckerberg touted the “hundreds of thousands of pieces of misinformation related to COVID-19” that the site had pulled in recent months, Facebook continued to offer targeted ads classified as “pseudoscience.” It was an odd choice from a social network so publicly declaring its own campaigns to remove junk science amid a global pandemic.
Using Ad Manager, advertisers were able to serve ads to some 78 million people “who have expressed an interest in pseudoscience.” Following an investigation by The Markup that found the site buying ads to target that category, Facebook says it’s done with the pseudoscience tag.
In a statement to TechCrunch, the company reconfirmed the move. “This interest category of advertising should have been removed in a previous review and we’ve removed it,” Director of Product Management Rob Leathern said. There was never a great time to run junk science ads, of course, but the issue has come to a head in recent weeks and months, as COVID-19 has become a massive hotbed for conspiracy and dangerous cures.
As Zuckerberg noted in his piece last week, popular theories flagged by the company include the notions that “drinking bleach cures the virus or that physical distancing is ineffective at preventing the disease from spreading.” It’s unclear (beyond the obvious answer of ad revenue) why Facebook continued to offer the category until it was essentially called out on the matter.
Other ad networks and social media sites have been taking pains to slow the spread of misinformation. Twitter recently added 5G-related conspiracies to its list of COVID-19 related guidance, while Google just announced that it would be extending its ID verification for its ad systems.
Facebook fighting against disinformation: Launch new options
Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has dismantled new malicious networks that used vaccine debates to harass professionals or sow division in some countries, a sign that disinformation about the pandemic, spread for political ends, is on the wane not.
“They insulted doctors, journalists and elected officials, calling them supporters of the Nazis because they were promoting vaccines against the Covid, ensuring that compulsory vaccination would lead to a dictatorship of health,” explained Mike Dvilyanski, director investigations into emerging threats, at a press conference on Wednesday.
He was referring to a network linked to an anti-vaccination movement called “V_V”, which the Californian group accuses of having carried out a campaign of intimidation and mass harassment in Italy and France, against health figures, media and politics.
The authors of this operation coordinated in particular via the Telegram messaging system, where the volunteers had access to lists of people to target and to “training” to avoid automatic detection by Facebook.
Their tactics included leaving comments under victims’ messages rather than posting content, and using slightly changed spellings like “vaxcinati” instead of “vaccinati”, meaning “people vaccinated” in Italian.
The social media giant said it was difficult to assess the reach and impact of the campaign, which took place across different platforms.
This is a “psychological war” against people in favor of vaccines, according to Graphika, a company specializing in the analysis of social networks, which published Wednesday a report on the movement “V_V”, whose name comes from the Italian verb “vivere” (“to live”).
“We have observed what appears to be a sprawling populist movement that combines existing conspiratorial theories with anti-authoritarian narratives, and a torrent of health disinformation,” experts detail.
They estimate that “V_V” brings together some 20,000 supporters, some of whom have taken part in acts of vandalism against hospitals and operations to interfere with vaccinations, by making medical appointments without honoring them, for example.
Change on Facebook
Facebook announces news that will facilitate your sales and purchases on the social network.
Mark Zuckerberg, the boss of Facebook, announced that the parent company would now be called Meta, to better represent all of its activities, from social networks to virtual reality, but the names of the different services will remain unchanged. A month later, Meta is already announcing news for the social network.
The first is the launch of online stores in Facebook groups. A “Shop” tab will appear and will allow members to buy products directly through the group in question.
Other features have been communicated with the aim of facilitating e-commerce within the social network, such as the display of recommendations and a better mention of products or even Live Shopping. At this time, no date has been announced regarding the launch of these new options.
In the light of recent features, the company wants to know the feedback from its users through the survey same like what Tesco doing to get its customers feedback via Tesco Views Survey. However, the company is still about this feedback will announce sooner than later in this regard.
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