Whichever side of the child vaccination debate you find yourself on, we had previously thought that Facebook’s position on the matter was clear, with anti-vax ads seemingly banned from the platform.
This especially as the company cited that such ads may lead to the spread of misinformation, but it turns out Facebook does not take as strong a stance when it comes to actually enforcing its position on anti-vax ads.
According to a report from Buzzfeed News, an alternative medicine company called Earthley is running anti-vax ads on both Facebook and Instagram discussing what it terms as the “vaccine controversy” and in particular that vaccines for the whopping cough are unsafe.
Added to this the ads suggest Earthley’s own products as an alternative.
When it comes to Facebook’s policies around the removal of ads, they must be removed when they have been proved to be false or misleading by third-party fact checking organisations. In this particular case the World Health Organisation has provided information on the subject which contradicts the claims of Earthley.
This is not good enough according to Facebook, with a spokesperson telling Buzzfeed News that the ads did not violate its policies.
“Facebook does not have a policy that bans advertising on the basis that it expresses opposition to vaccines. Our policy is to ban ads containing vaccine misinformation,” the spokesperson told the site.
This loose interpretation of its own policies are less than convincing, and when Engadget pressed to find out why precisely these ads did not violate Facebook policy, it was unable to provide an answer.
Either way this latest episode shows that while Facebook advocates for the removal of misinformation from its platform, the wording of its policies leave too large a margin for error.
At the time of writing the ads are still on Facebook.