[Ed. – With power comes responsibility.]
Social media, especially Facebook, has taken down the guard rails that used to offer us at least some protection. Advertising used to be mostly transparent. Advertisers, especially those reaching for a broad audience, could face a backlash if they stepped too far over the line. Consumers knew who they were dealing with, so they could choose not to be sold by finance companies and buy index funds instead. Your grandmother figured out girdles were uncomfortable. At a certain point, you realized models were mostly made-up.
In addition to transparency, the other guard rail in the system was people. There were executives, ad sales people, designers and publishers, buyers and sellers, who could step in. They didn’t always, but sometimes they did. At one of my first jobs as an editor at The Central Penn Business Journal in Harrisburg, Pa., I remember an ad saleswoman coming into my office and saying, “I’m really not comfortable with this ad. This company is lying.”