Facebook’s new ‘Home’ won’t solve its advertising problem

Facebook has an ad problem but it has nothing to do with phones. It's that Facebook ads are rife with spammers and scammers.

Facebook has an advertising problem, and it’s not just on mobile platforms. Though yesterday’s announcement of its Home app for Android phones might assuage some of Wall Street’s concerns about the social network’s lack of mobile marketing muscle, it’s got bigger problems when it comes to ads.

To be blunt, as my Irish forebears might have said, Facebook’s ads are shite. Nobody looks at them, and why should they? Easily a third of the ads I see every time I visit Facebook are from spammy companies selling stupid diets, bogus self improvement schemes, books on how to pick up chicks, or cheap knockoffs of brand name products.

These guys are the bottom feeders of the Internet advertising world. Often these ads are so inept and patently false you have to wonder if anyone at Facebook is paying any attention to them at all.

This morning, for example, I saw two separate ads for counterfeit Oakley sunglasses. Only these geniuses can’t even figure out the correct spelling of Oakley, spelling it “Okaley” or “0akey.”

fb bogus oakely ads top and bottom.png

The URLs listed in the ad copy are, of course, not the Web sites you’ll actually reach if you click on the ad. That’s a violation of Facebook’s ad policy by the way, and something its automated ad checking technology is supposed to catch. But if you do click them, you’ll end up at a site that looks something like this:

fake oakley site-600p.png

Which is of course, is a close ripoff of Oakley’s actual site (except that on the real site, the word “Authentic” isn’t spelled “Authitic”):

real oakley site-600p.png

Fake Oakleys (better known as “Foakleys") are a common phenomenon across the Web. So this is not exactly news. But what are ads for them doing on Facebook?

As with the business of Facebook fakes, which I’ve written about more times than I can count, the people behind these kinds of scams are not the sharpest knives in the drawer. They’re more like sporks. And yet they easily defeat Facebook’s attempts to police them.

Why? There can be only two possible reasons:

1. Facebook simply cannot keep up with the volume of spammers and scammers, and its automated tools are woefully inept.

2. Facebook so desperately needs ad revenue right now that it’s willing to turn a blind eye to spammers and scammers.

Neither of those possibilities is very hopeful. And until Facebook figures this shite out, there’s no way I’m going to relinquish control of my smartphone to Facebook Home.

Got a question about social media or privacy? TY4NS blogger Dan Tynan may have the answer (and if not, he’ll make something up). Visit his snarky, occasionally NSFW blogeSarcasm or follow him on Twitter: @tynanwrites. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-to’s, follow ITworld onTwitter and Facebook.

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