For as long as advertising has been accepted on social media, bad ads have polluted the system. But lately, they seem to be everywhere and inescapable.
On platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, users are complaining about ads that pitch products they would never want, events that have already happened or services available far from where they live. They say that many of the ads repeat constantly in their feeds, and swamp out the content they came to see. Sometimes, the ads contain misinformation, such as vaccine conspiracy theories or false narratives about politics.
Advertising experts point to a number of potential causes, including upheaval in Silicon Valley, flaws in content moderation, increasingly available advertising technology, an exodus of higher-quality advertisers and privacy changes that affect companies’ ability to track and target consumers.
If you are encountering more unwanted ads, please share them with me. I am a reporter at The New York Times, focusing on misinformation, with years spent covering media and marketing. Bad ads can be a sign of many things: a weakening economy, a shift in priorities for social media companies, even a bolder push by malicious actors to indoctrinate consumers. Your experiences can help us understand the factors at play.
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