Facebook Will Maybe Start Doing Something About Ads For Shady Clothing Sites

Site vs. reality, reflected in real orders placed by CBS DFW reporter Cristin Severance  (photo: CBS DFW)

Site vs. reality, reflected in actual orders placed by CBS DFW reporter Cristin Severance (photo: CBS DFW)

You may have seen ads on Facebook or elsewhere online for what look like decent quality and trendy clothes at rock-bottom prices. They have some satisfied customers, but many of these sites offer ill-fitting clothes that barely resemble their photos. When shady overseas fashion purveyors advertise on Facebook to find new customers, does Facebook have any responsibility for what happens next?

While the names of the sites change often, one constant in the industry over the last few years has been Facebook ads targeted to women. After a fantastic piece uncovering the industry of fast, inconsistent fashion from China last week, Buzzfeed finally got a statement out of Facebook that maybe they’ll consider looking into advertisers that rack up consumer complaints.

The problem, a company representative explained, is that there’s a mind-boggling number of businesses that advertise on Facebook. (I’ve bought Facebook ads, so I guess I’m one of those “businesses.”)

“We’re looking at ways to incorporate new signals that will help us identify which of the over 50 million active businesses on our platform are delivering products and services that are overwhelmingly unsatisfactory to people,” Facebook’s VP of ads and pages, Andrew Bosworth, explained in an e-mail to Buzzfeed.

If you click on a Facebook ad that doesn’t take you where the ad promised, you can let Facebook know right away. When your safety-yellow polyester sheath reeking of formaldehyde arrives five weeks late, you probably won’t go back and report it to the site where you saw the ad.

Facebook can’t pretend that they haven’t heard of the problem. Knockoff Nightmares and Don’t Do it, Girl, two popular communities that exist specifically to warn people away from China-based fashion sites, are based on Facebook.

Still, Bosworth gets the problem, and the company wants to fix it. “We understand the gravity of this issue and we’re taking it very seriously,” he said in an e-mail.

Facebook Taking Shady Dress Retailers “Very Seriously” [Buzzfeed]