Suppose you’re on Facebook or Instagram, and Meta has determined you may be interested in cancer treatments. In that case, you may have seen an ad for a dangerous cancer treatment, or one of the 20 or so others recently running from the CHIPSA hospital in Mexico near the US border, all of which are publicly listed in Meta’s Ad Library. They are part of a pattern on Facebook of ads that make misleading or false health claims targeted at cancer patients.

Cerebral will stop writing prescriptions for Adderall, Ritalin, and other controlled substances to new ADHD patients as concerns grow about telehealth companies’ prescribing practices. To make matters worse, a former executive at Cerebral, a well-funded online mental health startup, claims in a labor lawsuit that the company fired him after he complained that the company was too quick to prescribe powerful stimulant drugs. Do online mental health apps work?

It’s time to stop using worthless online ad metrics. Click-through rates are the most used KPI in marketing, but they are useless. Click-through rates don’t correlate with any meaningful brand metrics. Billions of dollars are “optimized” based on nothing but noise. “One impression’ is one web browser making one server request for one advertisement. Human eyeballs have nothing to do with it, so it’s all useless.

Mental illnesses are common in the United States. Nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness (52.9 million in 2020). Mental illnesses include many different conditions that vary in severity, ranging from mild to moderate to severe. Suicidal ideation continues to increase among adults in the U.S. 4.58% of adults report having serious thoughts of suicide, an increase of 664,000 people from last year’s dataset. The national rate of suicidal ideation among adults has increased every year since 2011-2012.

SUMMARY: The health information on Facebook is a danger to anyone who reads it. Experiences from current patients do provide some context but too often contain lousy advice. Facebook should post a warning on every page that deals with health issues that informs people that their physician is still their best source of information.