Facebook approves COVID-19 misinformation ads

Occurred: April 2020

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An investigation by Consumer Reports shows that Facebook is approving ads containing blatant misinformation about the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. 

The consumer advocacy organisation placed seven ads under a false name with no advertising history advising people to drink bleach and other false or dangerous claims, all of which were quickly approved by Facebook.

Facebook's advertising screening system is highly automated, with humans only involved in helping train the algorithms and occasionally reviewing specific ads before they run.

Consumer Reports quotes digital rights researchers and digital marketing experts saying that Facebook's advertising system is opaque, overly complex, and poorly documented and explained.

Operator: Meta/Facebook
Developer: Meta/Facebook
Country: USA
Sector: Technology
Purpose: Review advertising
Technology: Advertising management system
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Mis/disinformation
Transparency: Governance; Black box