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Facebook is bombarding cancer patients with ads for unproven treatments

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One of Verita Life in Bangkok, Thailand, targeted Australians like Autar and mistakenly claimed that the hypothermia therapy offered there “destroys cancer cells.” When Autar took a screenshot of the ad in his news feed in August 2020, it had over 1000 likes and 600 shares.

Autar reported an ad that was displayed on Facebook using the system within the platform, but it remained visible. At some point, he says he tried to use the Silicon Valley connection to flag ads directly to Facebook admins. He then stopped seeing clinic ads in his ad library and his feed, but came back a few months later.

According to the ad library, both CHIPSA and Verita Life had some ads on Facebook and Instagram before the MIT Technology Review contacted them. By June 18, 2022, Verita Life was able to advertise the testimony of prostate cancer patients. The MIT Technology Review has flagged the ad, along with two others promoting the same testimonial. All three remain active.

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According to Meta’s ad library, this ad is still active. (MIT Technology Review)

Meta reviews new ads, mostly through an automated process, before they are published. The company said ads and posts from CHIPSA’s Facebook page and Instagram account are flagged and fact-checked by third-party fact checkers. According to Meta, if a company repeatedly violates the policy, the function of the company that advertises will be temporarily suspended.

Meta has rules for misleading claims, for example, but all Facebook and Instagram ads must also follow Meta’s community guidelines. The guidelines prohibit content that “promotes or advocates the treatment of harmful miracles of health problems” in the absence of legitimate health use, as these allegations contribute to serious injury or death.

These rules, even if enforced quickly, can leave many gray areas due to sensational claims. For example, he states: It’s not just about curing cancer. ”

But what about Apatone, the treatment that CHIPSA advertises? Preclinical studies have shown some anti-cancer effects, but “have not proven to be more beneficial than the standard treatments currently used in humans,” the University of Utah is studying false information. Cancer researcher Skyler Johnson says.

The danger is not just that the treatment has not been proven or is ineffective. Some alternative cancer treatments advertised on the platform can cause physical harm. Corey’s toxin, a treatment developed in the late 19th century and offered by CHIPSA, carries risks such as infection, site reactions, anaphylaxis, and, in severe cases, shock, Johnson says.

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