Facebook is boosting its profits by allowing advertisers to cynically target new parents with homeopathic “vaccine alternatives”, an investigation has found.
The social media giant is auctioning off advertising space for up to 21 cent per click to anyone peddling controversial homeopathic remedies beloved by anti-vaxxers.
Alarmingly, advertisers can ensure their content is shown to people whose children are of MMR vaccination age, and who may never have displayed any interest in alternatives to the immunisations recommended by health authorities.
In March, Facebook pledged to “reject” ads spreading anti-vaccine misinformation.
However, reporters at ‘The Daily Telegraph’ found the web giant still allows adverts offering “homeopathic vaccination alternatives”, or treatment for supposed “vaccine injury”. It also allows ads promoting homeopathic “autism cures” to be targeted at parents whose online search history shows they have been seeking support for autism.
‘Telegraph’ journalists set up a website purporting to be a homeopathic business offering a series of controversial therapies. In an ad on Facebook, it boasted it specialised in “vaccine alternatives for kids, vaccine injury, Cease therapy and autism cures”.
Cease therapy – complete elimination of autistic spectrum expression – is a controversial autism “treatment” that has no scientific evidence to support it.
The ad was approved the same day it was submitted. It allowed reporters to target it at “new parents (0-12 months)”, “parents with pre-schoolers (3-5 years)” and “parents with toddlers (aged 1-2)”.
Facebook said yesterday: “We do not want ads that include widely debunked misinformation or make misleading and unsubstantiated claims on our platform. When we find them, we will reject them.”