Facebook stops advertisers from targeting users into 'pseudoscience'

The move comes as Facebook makes fighting coronavirus misinformation a ‘top priority.’

Dado Ruvic / Reuters

Mark Zuckerberg has said that fighting coronavirus misinformation is one of his “top priorities,” yet Facebook’s ad policies have been slow to catch up. Now, the company will no longer allow advertisers to target users based on their interest in “pseudoscience,” according to The Markup.

The publication discovered the category after seeing an ad for an “anti-EMF beanie,” apparently meant to “protect” against radiation from smartphones. Facebook later told The Markup it removed the category from its ad platform.

While it’s not clear how popular this particular category has been among Facebook advertisers — it dates back to at least 2016 — its existence could be particularly problematic as the company tries to crack down on the many pseudoscientific claims that have taken hold during the coronavirus pandemic. Conspiracy theories linking 5G technology to the coronavirus have become particularly problematic across social media.

Facebook’s ad categories, have been a source of controversy in the past. The company previously took heat for allowing advertisers to target “vaccine controversies,” and the social network settled a lawsuit last year that alleged the company’s ad targeting enabled housing discrimination.