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Facebook stops letting advertisers target people interested in 'pseudoscience'

The move comes after an investigation found that Facebook was allowing advertisers to target ads at 78 million users interested in the topic.

Image by Pixabay; illustration by CNET

Facebook will no longer allow advertisers to target their ads at people interested in "pseudoscience." The move follows a report from The Markup that said Facebook was allowing such ads even amid companywide efforts to crack down on misinformation about the COVID-19  outbreak circulating on its platforms.

Facebook had reportedly classified as many as 78 million users as having a potential interest in pseudoscience: beliefs or practices mistakenly regarded as scientific. As part of its investigation, The Markup said it was able to target ads of its own at these users on both Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram, with some of the ads being approved within minutes.

Facebook on Thursday confirmed that the targeting option had been removed to prevent potential abuse.

"This interest category of advertising should have been removed in a previous review and we've removed it," said Rob Leathern, Facebook's director of product management, in a statement. 

A spokesperson for Facebook added that the company reviews ad targeting options on an ongoing basis

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