There has been quite a stir lately in the U.S. in the wake of the 2016 election over fake news that has made its way into Facebook?s News Feed. While we?re focused on this controversy, we should take a look at scam ads, as well.
For instance, an ad recently ran in Facebook?s News Feed that purported to be a BBC News story on energy switching. Actually, it was nothing of the sort, and it pointed to a landing page for Flipper, an energy-switching company.
Beonpush, meanwhile, has been described as a Ponzi scheme, but that hasn?t prevented the company from gaining high visibility on Facebook.
Scam ads are just part of the problem, and the issue exists outside of Facebook. The internet is also being overrun with clickbait sites promoted by Outbrain and Taboola that exist to lure readers of legitimate news in order to rack up page views.
Between fake ads and clickbait, digital advertising is looking like the Wild West. With no sheriff on the horizon, the responsibility will fall to publishers to improve the ad and media experience.
The Wild West of scam ads
New examples of scam ads on Facebook pop up all the time. Most recently, BuzzFeed discovered that a Chinese conglomerate advertised dresses at too-good-to-be-true prices. Consumers who purchased them found that the cheap apparel looked nothing like what was advertised.
It?s hard to say how prevalent such examples are. A 2014 study by Bitdefender identified 850,000 Facebook ad scams across the world. Like fake news, many were hard to distinguish from advertising from legitimate products or communication from Facebook itself. The study found that the most popular scam asked readers to guess who had viewed their profile.
Facebook has a mechanism for reporting such ads. But since much of the company?s advertising is automated, it?s a moot point.
Facebook Audience Network policy states that developers are prohibited from displaying ads that contain content that is ?illegal, misleading or deceptive or that promotes regula...