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Users Warned About Shady Companies Advertising On Facebook

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- Buyer beware before clicking on that Facebook ad with millions of likes; those deals showing up in your feed might be too good to be true.

Chelsea Flaherty was victimized by a Facebook ad.

"I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, and I saw it multiple times. And I really liked it," said Flaherty, referring to the dress she saw advertised.

So she clicked the ad and ordered what she thought would be her graduation dress.

But weeks later, when the dress hadn't arrived and the company was unresponsive, she realized she should have done more research.

The Better Business Bureau has issued a warning about buying clothing and other items from Facebook ads, citing several advertisers with "F" ratings.

"Year over year, we're seeing a 20 percent increase of these types of complaints," explained Michael Lai, who works with the review website The site received more than 16,000 complaints last year alone.

Many reported targeted Facebook ads using photos taken from other sites. Lai says if the items come at all, they almost never look like the image in the ad.

"Facebook has a strong history of policing what goes into the feed, so people feel like what shows up in their feed is something that they can trust," said Lai.

Unlike Google or Amazon, which aggregate reviews and ratings from people who've made purchases, the likes and comments on Facebook ads can be misleading.

"It could show up with a million different likes and look like its being recommended from a friend, but your friend could have just liked the picture that they saw that showed up in their feed," said Lai.

He says Facebook needs to be more transparent and noted that it doesn't vet these companies.

When asked for a statement on these kinds of misleading ads, Facebook said, "We're always working to make ads relevant and useful. We're testing new ways for people to give us feedback about businesses."

"You would think they would check the companies on their site," said Flaherty.

But for now, it is up to users to do their own research. That was how Chelsea's boyfriend found the exact same photo of her dress on another site, and had it rush ordered just in time for graduation day.

None of the companies featured in the report responded to KPIX 5's requests for comment.

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