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Facebook cracks down on misleading e-commerce ads

Facebook is clamping down on ads from shopping sites that deliver low-quality products and misleading advertisements on the social network. To allow for this, the company launched a new feature that will enable users to give feedback on all ads they have clicked.

Users can view a record of the ads they have viewed on Ads Activity page, where users can give feedback on each advertisement. In case of slow shipping, you can report how late your product was delivered. You can also report misleading advertisements when the delivered product is different from the ad. Customer responses will be fed back to the advertiser or seller as well as to Facebook.

The tweak can result in two things; advertisers can market their products better if they get direct information about how accurate their ads are. The more important outcome will be that Facebook can block advertisers who get substantial negative feedback. Facebook said it will “give them a chance to improve before taking further action”. If the advertiser does not improve their ad quality over time Facebook “will reduce the amount of ads that particular business can run” and possibly ban the advertiser.

Siladitya adds: This is a useful step from Facebook. While savvier social media users are trained to avoid clicking on ads, especially ads that are trying to sell you a product, less savvy ones often fall for this trap. Case in point my father bought a pair of wireless earphones (that resemble knock off airpods) and they broke down in a day. Unlike large e-commerce platforms, these sellers have no clear return or refund policy. Buying things from ads on Facebook is the equivalent of buying something from Palika Bazar or Gaffar Market in Delhi, every purchase is a lottery. Facebook should do everything to label or remove such ads from its platform as low-quality ads are not a great thing for a platform that makes its money serving ads.

Facebook is being careful about ads

Facebook’s move indicates that the company wants to create a trustworthy environment for its e-commerce business. Last week, Facebook monetized its B2C platform Facebook Marketplace through classified ads in the U.S. In India, Facebook launched its marketplace as a consumer-to-consumer (C2C) interface November last year but received only a lukewarm response to its attempt. The marketplace is available only in select cities like Mumbai, Delhi, and Bengaluru for select users.

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Facebook also enforced new controls last month to build transparency on political advertisements. It will be labelling all political and issue ads, and include information about who paid for them. Users can see who put up an individual ad and how many people saw it – including their age, location and gender. Facebook also mandated verification of identity (with government ID) and location of anyone who wants to run such ads. In March, CEO Mark Zuckerberg had said that Facebook is working to protect political discourse by making ads more transparent.

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