Facebook stops advertisers from targeting users into 'pseudoscience'

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

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A man poses with a magnifier in front of a Facebook logo on display in this illustration taken in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, December 16, 2015. Facebook Inc said on Wednesday it is testing a service that will allow users of its Messenger app to hail Uber rides directly from the app, without leaving a conversation or downloading the ride-hailing app.  .  REUTERS/Dado Ruvic      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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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. 

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