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.

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.

KEY TAKEAWAY: According to a 2018 study from the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of American adults turn to Facebook for news, and a lot of people belong to Facebook groups for specific health conditions, but I have found an abundance of false information. This represents an opportunity for pharma, but they need to align processes around online health seeker needs.

KEY POINT: According to Facebook a lot of people join health groups on the social site to share experiences and ask questions. Facebook announced Tuesday that it wants to create a new type of community: health support groups in which people can even ask questions anonymously. Facebook is doing this to get more online digital dollars, but DTC marketers should be careful.

  • Facebook’s leaders seriously discussed selling access to user data — and privacy was an afterthought.
  • Mark Zuckerberg oversaw plans to consolidate the social network’s power and control competitors by treating its users’ data as a bargaining chip, while publicly proclaiming to be protecting that data.
  • Facebook ultimately decided not to sell the data directly but rather to dole it out to app developers who were considered personal “friends” of Zuckerberg or who spent money on Facebook and shared their own valuable data.