Facebook enables advertisers to target people interested in 'pseudoscience'

Occurred: April 2021

Facebook allowed advertisers to run adverts targeting people interested in 'pseudoscience', raising questions about the effectiveness and oversight of the company's misinformation policies. 

According to a investigation by The Markup, Facebook's ad portal listed more than 78 million people - an audience that could be targeted by advertisers, potentially spreading misinformation and disinformation.

Mark Zuckerberg had previously stated that 'one of [his] top priorities is making sure that [Facebook users] see accurate and authoritative information across all of [Facebook's] apps'.

Facebook subsequently removed the pseudoscience interest category.

The episode raised concerns about the platform’s role in the spread of misinformation. Furthermore, the reactive nature of Facebook’s response suggested a need for more proactive measures, including sgtronger oversight of its ad management system, to prevent such issues. 

Operator: Meta/Facebook
Developer: Meta/Facebook
Country: USA
Sector: Technology
Purpose: Target audiences
Technology: Advertising management system
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Pseudoscience
Transparency: Governance