Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Facebook Profits as Users Are Ripped Off by Scam Ads

Craig Silverman and Ryan Mac, Buzzfeed News:

A BuzzFeed News investigation has found that in relentlessly scaling its ad juggernaut — which is projected by analysts to bring in $80 billion this year — Facebook created a financial symbiosis with scammers, hackers, and disinformation peddlers who use its platforms to rip off and manipulate people around the world. The result is a global economy of dishonesty in which Facebook has at times prioritized revenue over the enforcement of policies seemingly put in place to protect the people who use its platform.

Company insiders said the ad platform’s issues are exacerbated by Facebook’s continued reliance on a small army of low-paid, unempowered contractors to manage a daily onslaught of ad moderation and policy enforcement decisions that often have far-reaching consequences for its users. Internal documents and messages, as well as interviews with eight current and former employees and contractors, show that Facebook’s ad workers have at times been told to ignore suspicious behavior unless it “would result in financial losses for Facebook,” and that the company is pushing to grow revenue in regions that flood its pages with scams.

As I was saying.

There are claims from Facebook employees and contractors in this piece that are devastating — just damning. There are examples in here that indicate Facebook is aware of scammers using legitimate accounts to buy fraudulent ads, but the company won’t do anything because they keep paying. There are other examples of people promoting lightly-disguised pyramid schemes which are automatically targeted towards users that are more likely to click on them.

No ethical human being would sell these ads; surely nobody at Facebook likes seeing the company’s logo on the same screen as some scammer, either. But somewhere at Facebook, there are people making the calculation that there is little urgency to remove these ads from the platform.