Anne Borden King, writing at The New York Times:
Last week, I posted about my breast cancer diagnosis on Facebook.
Since then, my Facebook feed has featured ads for “alternative
cancer care.” The ads, which were new to my timeline, promote
everything from cumin seeds to colloidal silver as cancer
treatments. Some ads promise luxury clinics — or even “nontoxic
cancer therapies” on a beach in Mexico.
There’s a reason I’ll never fall for these ads: I’m an advocate
against pseudoscience. As a consultant for the watchdog group Bad
Science Watch and the founder of the Campaign Against Phony
Autism Cures, I’ve learned to recognize the hallmarks of
pseudoscience marketing: unproven and sometimes dangerous
treatments, promising simplistic solutions and support. Things
like “bleach cures” that promise to treat everything from
Covid-19 to autism.
When I saw the ads, I knew that Facebook had probably tagged me to
receive them. Interestingly, I haven’t seen any legitimate cancer
care ads in my newsfeed, just pseudoscience. This may be because
pseudoscience companies rely on social media in a way that
other forms of health care don’t.
“May be” is too kind, as is “social media” in general as opposed to Facebook in particular. Scammers and fraudsters of all sorts, from alternative “medicine” quacks to financial investment grifters, have found a welcoming home advertising and promoting their rackets on Facebook.
They don’t advertise on legitimate media because legitimate media won’t have them, and because Facebook makes it affordable by doing all the hard work of targeting for them. Facebook is a criminal enterprise fully and knowingly complicit in all of this — from the spread of bigotry to the spread of pseudoscience.
Conversely, legitimate advertisers are abandoning Facebook because they want nothing to do with any of this. To remain on Facebook is to be complicit by association.
★ Monday, 13 July 2020