Experience shows that in order to sell such a product, which has not been scientifically proven to really have the benefits presented, it needs to promise a lot. Such as, for example, that by drinking tea you will get rid of gallstones, but also that your blood vessels will be further purified, you will no longer have gastritis, and your high blood pressure will decrease. The facts are that no one medicine, no tea, has those properties. Furthermore, the price should be appropriate, that is, everyone with a standard income should be able to afford the product.

One thing that works in particular, which has been demonstrated in North Macedonia, is the false framing of interviews or statements by well-known doctors allegedly promoting the medicine. Several doctors in North Macedonia won the court proceedings over such cases and proved that they were in no way connected to, nor did they ever promote a certain medicine, as the company had attempted to falsely present.

Writer and researcher Andrew Laughlin launched an experiment, to discover how easy it is to push fake content on the internet. So, he posted an advertisement for a non-existent brand of bottled water and attempted to promote it to thousands of Facebook and Google users, accompanied by pseudo-health tips for weight loss.

The fake water brand was named Remedii, and also offered an associated online service containing health tips and a so-called “natural hydration”.

The advertisement received almost 100.000 impressions over the course of a month on Google, and the Facebook page created for “Natural hydration” received more than 500 likes, gaining an audience which could be reached with false messaging and various promotions. Laughlin showed that all of this is extremely easy and that people should be extremely careful who they trust and where they leave their money.

How to identify a fake advertisement?

1. Discover who published the advertisement. Always pay attention to whether the advertiser appears legitimate. Is it a company? Does it have its own address or contact details besides a generic e-mail? Does the company have a website? If not, don’t even attempt to click on it, as there is a high likelihood of being scammed.

2. Avoid everything that contains errors. If you notice the advertisement contains unusual formatting, low quality photographs or spelling/grammar errors, do not order any products.

3. Be cautious of advertisements containing financial or medical firm and unambiguous claims - from products “guaranteed” to reduce the risk of contracting illnesses to get-rich-quick schemes.

4. Report. If you believe you have seen false advertising, report the ad by using the tools provided by Facebook, Google and other platforms. By doing this, you could help many others who would be quicker to take the bait by ordering and buying products whose sole purpose is to manipulate people.