The news of its findings comes weeks after the Advertising Standards Authority announced the launch of a UK “scam ad alert” system in partnership with platforms such as Facebook and Google, “to help fight fake ads” .
Which? created two fake related companies – a water brand called Remedii which “can help you lose weight [and] improve your mood ”, and an online service offering“ pseudo health and hydration advice ”called Natural Hydration.
The consumer agency said Google only requires users to have a Gmail account to create ads and that, although it has reviewed those that have been submitted, it has not verified whether the business existed or was legitimate, nor request proof of identity.
In less than an hour, Which? created for the two fake businesses have been approved by Google. They accumulated nearly 100,000 impressions in one month. The false advertisement for Natural Hydration appeared above the official NHS Scotland pages when users searched for “hydration tips”.
Which? said that while Facebook had restrictions on ads that could cause harm, it still found problems. Use a personal Facebook account that only requires an email address or mobile phone number for setup, which one? created a commercial page for Natural Hydration and produced a series of articles with “pseudo health tips” to promote it. Which? Facebook paid to promote the page, which registered 500 likes in a week.
A spokesperson for Google said that protecting credible consumers and businesses was his top priority. They said, “We have put in place strict advertising policies to protect consumers and prohibit advertisements that intentionally mislead users or fail to deliver the product or service being promoted.
“When we see ads that break our rules, we take action. We are also continually evaluating our policies and application systems to keep improving, and we recently introduced a new program to verify the identity of each advertiser so that they can serve ads on our platforms. ”
Google said it removed 2.7 billion ads from its platforms in 2019.
Facebook said which one? the Facebook page that was created did not violate its community standards. He said, “We are removing harmful disinformation that could contribute to physical harm, such as false health claims, and have strict policies against misleading advertising and scams.”
A Facebook spokesperson said that it had put in place various processes to combat scams, but that none of the ads contained harmful content and that no attempt had been made to sell products through the Facebook page. This means that the page has not tested these processes.