After a Fine Gael TD, Emer Higgins called on the social media company to stop hosting illegal ads for college ‘essay mills’ Facebook has responded by removing a number of large campaigns advertising the service.

An analysis of advertising campaigns on Facebook by The Journal last month found eight active advertisements for essay writing services for college students. The campaigns were running targeted campaigns on Facebook, Messenger and Instagram. The advertising of essay-writing services has been illegal in Ireland since 2019 under the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Amendment Act.

Emer Higgins, TD, called on Facebook to take down a number of essay-writing advertising campaigns stating that the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act “explicitly criminalises” the sale of and advertisement of these services.

This is banned under the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Amendment Act, introduced in 2019, which makes it an offence to provide or advertise essay-writing services to college students, or to run advertising campaigns promoting them in Ireland.

A spokesperson for Facebook told The Journal that the social media firm would remove the offending advertisements. A later search of Facebook’s advertising campaigns confirmed that the social media giant had removed a number of the ads but was still in the process of taking down three of the eight illegal campaigns.

A spokesperson for USI (Union for Students Ireland)said that essay-writing services targeting third-level students were “malicious” in how they focused on students who may be stressed over assignments saying:

“It’s become such a serious problem that we really can’t ignore it […] These are companies that are targeting vulnerable students who are under pressure and selling them a dream. We need to try and ensure that students can reach out to legitimate support services instead, rather than relying on ones that mask themselves as being the right thing to do.”

Hugh Dooley – News Editor