The American social media conglomerate Facebook allowed several thousand posts and ads, including ones involving gambling, which breached the existing UK legislation. The adverts even included some that offered suspicious cures for the novel coronavirus infection.
After the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) addressed the company and informed that some of the promotional posts and advertisements violated its regulations, Facebook made sure it deleted over 2,000 ads and posts targeting UK users in the period from January to June 2020.
The social media company itself revealed that almost 1,500 accounts, ads and posts were taken down because they popularised and sold regulated goods and services. Another 30 posts, ads and accounts were deleted because they misused private information, while 20 were taken down because of a range of offenses such as gambling, privacy breaches, and violating the laws in regard to hate speech.
As revealed by the country’s advertising watchdog, until it was notified of the breach, the social media allowed ads that took advantage of people’s anxieties or fears for their health and had been offering dubious cures for the coronavirus infection. The ASA also ordered Facebook to remove some Botox promotional posts because advertising prescription-only medicine is currently not legal in the UK.
Number of Deleted Ads by Facebook Increased in the First Half of 2020
The decision of the American social network conglomerate to allow the adverts has raised more questions regarding the ability and willingness of Facebook to observe the advertising rules across the world.
According to its latest transparency report, altogether, the social network deleted about 3,600 pages and posts on Facebook and accounts on Instagram in the UK because of illegal content in the first six months of 2020. The figure was more than 10 times bigger than the number of takedowns that took place in previous half-year periods since the social network started publishing such data at the beginning of 2014.
As far as gambling advertising is concerned, social media channels have been increasingly criticised for allowing gambling companies to target vulnerable people, including children that often use social networks and can see such ads online. Apart from that, Facebook also came under fire for violations associated with its vetting of political advertising during the US elections, including a number of cases where it has allowed misinformation and hate speech.
The existing UK legislation currently does not allow underage individuals to access gambling services, and targeting such individuals with marketing materials and special offers that could end up pushing children and more vulnerable individuals to gamble. The advertising regulatory body in the UK – the ASA – has been monitoring the market in order to prevent access to any age-restricted ads that could put people’s health or well-being in danger.
As the social network operator revealed itself, the number of consumer complaints about inappropriate adverts has been increasing lately.