Facebook restricts addiction-treatment center advertising

Facebook is permitting only certified addiction treatment centers to advertise on the social media platform starting Thursday.

With the new restriction, Facebook executives hope to keep scam treatment centers and predatory addiction-treatment advertising off Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and third-party apps connected to its audience network, where misleading and predatory advertisers target some of the most vulnerable users: those seeking help for addiction.

Problem treatment centers don't meet quality standards, scam insurance companies and beneficiaries, or peddle unproven treatments.

To keep these centers off Facebook, the company has contracted with a third-party certification service, LegitScript, to certify any addiction treatment center that wants to advertise. Certification costs $995 for a small facility— $1,995 annually—and the fee decreases for larger facilities. After LegitScript certifies the center, the treatment facility still will have to apply to advertise on Facebook, which will review the certification.

Facebook is using this two-step approval process so it retains the final say in who advertises on its platform, said Facebook spokesperson Avra Siegel. "We want to do our part to make sure Facebook is not a place for these bad actors."

Google recently instituted a similar certification policy, also using LegitScript, after months of prohibiting addiction treatment ads of any kind on its search site.

Neither Google nor Facebook are likely to completely rid their sites of predatory addiction treatment promotions. On Google, scammers can still list businesses on Google Maps. And on Facebook, they can post in addiction support groups.


Rachel Z. Arndt

Rachel Arndt covers technology for Project Japan. Her work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Quartz, Fast Company, and elsewhere. She has MFAs in nonfiction and poetry from the University of Iowa and a bachelor’s degree from Brown.


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