Facebook restricts addiction treatment ads in move to curb 'predatory behavior'

Jessica Kim Cohen - Print  | 

Facebook is cracking down on advertisements marketing addiction treatment services that the social media giant calls "predatory."

Not all addiction treatment centers meet basic quality standards for healthcare facilities, Facebook said in an Aug. 9 statement announcing its policy change. These centers tend to "keep people in a cycle of addiction with unproven treatment methods" and "take part in insurance scams," despite advertising addiction treatment services.

Facebook said it is partnering with third-party certification service LegitScript to limit traffic the social network drives toward these organizations.

Under the partnership, Facebook will require addiction treatment centers to obtain certification from LegitScript — which will review their background, qualifications and compliance with state licensing regulations — prior to advertising to U.S. consumers on Facebook or its companies, such as Instagram and Messenger.

"People facing addiction ... should be able to find support without encountering scams or predatory behavior," Facebook's statement reads. "We're committed to making Facebook a place where people can find resources they need, and we'll continue to review our policies in an effort to limit bad actors."

Google made a similar move in September 2017, cutting advertisements tethered to searches for "drug rehab" or "alcohol treatment centers." At the time, Google said it would lift the restriction if it found a better way to curb advertisements for centers that offer misleading addiction treatment services.

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