The posts imply Bialik is embattled in controversy but links to a fake Fox News article claiming she created and is selling CBD gummies to treat dementia. Companies are jumping at the chance to market CBD products like oils, cosmetics, tinctures, and vaporizer cartridges to consumers who are perhaps looking for a more ‘natural’ relief for symptoms ranging from anxiety and pain to insomnia and substance-abuse disorder. But with little-to-no oversight from the FDA, how can Americans determine which products are safe and effective and which aren’t? Two leading experts in the field break down the ever-booming CBD industry.
Facebook is overrun with bizarre ads claiming Jeopardy! host Mayim Bialik is embroiled in scandal. It’s actually an attempt to sell CBD gummies.
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A Facebook ad linked to a site with a made up article designed to appear to look like FoxNews.com. Screenshot
- Facebook ads from various accounts claim to offer news of “allegations” against actress Mayim Bialik.
- One account running such an advertisement told Insider the account was hacked.
- The ads take users to a fake news article claiming Bialik is selling CBD gummies. She is not.
Multiple Facebook accounts have run advertisements for over a month on the platform luring in users with the promise of a juicy story about actress and “Jeopardy!” host Mayim Bialik, only to deceptively link to a bait-and-switch attempt to sell CBD gummies.
The ads have been prevalent enough that Bialik referenced the posts in a March 21 post to Instagram, where she denied involvement, writing that the ads looked “very authentic” but were “indeed a hoax.”
“I am not selling CBD gummies of any kind and do not plan to do so at any point in the future,” Bialik said in the Instagram post. “I have tried to get this removed to no avail. It’s not real.”
Weeks later, similar advertisements persisted on Facebook.
Insider saw one such advertisement on April 14. The sponsored post was made by an account that appeared to be for a photographer. When the account was contacted via Facebook by Insider, the administrator of the page said they had been hacked and were unsure how to stop the sponsored posts from running.
An advertisement on Facebook seen on April 14 promised to reveal “allegations” against Mayim Bialik. Screenshot
The sponsored post from the account said: “Jeopardy fans are up in arms over the allegations pending against Mayim Bialik. Here is all the information available to the public at this moment.”
The post featured a photo of the “Jeopardy!” set with a photo of Bialik edited in the foreground. Bialik was holding a white piece of paper with the words “We Say Goodbye” written on it.
Similar language has been used in other advertisements spread by other Facebook accounts. One such post shared in an article by Snopes on April 8 used the same exact language about Bialik. On March 13, screenshots from a similar Facebook advertisement were shared on Twitter.
Facebook did not respond to Insider’s request for comment sent Friday. According to company policies, misleading advertisements are banned from running on Facebook.
“Ads must not contain deceptive, false, or misleading claims like those relating to the effectiveness or characteristics of a product or service, including misleading health, employment or weight-loss claims that set unrealistic expectations for users,” according to the policy.
The post seen by Insider last week included a link to a website with a headline that read “Allegation Against Mayim Bialik Have Been Confirmed,” however the post’s URL preview showed “WALGREENS.COM” and its preview text was about nail polish.
When the link was clicked, it instead opened an article that appeared to be on a website made to make users believe they were reading an article on FoxNews.com.
The article was titled “Mayim Bialik reverses dementia solution sparks huge lawsuit pressure on Fox, she finally fights back on air,” and the post said it was authored by Fox News journalist Brit Hume.
A representative for Fox News told Insider the article was fake and that the network had contacted Facebook to have the ads running it removed from the platform.
The text of the article was entirely about CBD gummies from a brand called Smilz. Smilz did not return Insider’s request for comment about the advertisements.
The article claimed Bialik was feuding with Fox News personality Martha MacCallum because Bialik had announced a line of CBD gummies on “Live TV,” which is entirely false. A fake quote attributed to Bialik claimed the actress believed MacCallum was interested in coming after Bialik’s “timeslot,” but Bialik does not have a show on Fox News.
Bialik hosts the syndicated “Jeopardy!” and she appears as the titular character “Kat” in the Fox scripted sitcom “Call Me Kat.” She is most known for appearing on the long-running CBS sitcom “The Big Bang Theory.”
Representatives for Bialik did not immediately provide comment to Insider.
Bialik appeared to address the advertisements again in an April 15 video posted to Twitter, telling followers any of her advertisements would be clearly labeled with #ad or #sponsored.
“Please do not take anything too seriously,” she said. “Places are getting a lot more clever about making things look like they are real news stories when they are not.”
The article also made numerous claims about the gummies, including supposed testimonials from those who have used the gummies and had results treating diseases, including dementia.
There is no evidence that CBD products can reverse dementia, according to Healthline, a disease for which there is no known cure.
The fake article also claimed that Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson had endorsed Bialik’s gummies, claiming that Carlson said they had “completely changed his life.”
Just how safe are CBD products? Experts weigh in
Companies are jumping at the chance to market CBD products like oils, cosmetics, tinctures, and vaporizer cartridges to consumers who are perhaps looking for a more ‘natural’ relief for symptoms ranging from anxiety and pain to insomnia and substance-abuse disorder. But with little-to-no oversight from the FDA, how can Americans determine which products are safe and effective and which aren’t? Two leading experts in the field break down the ever-booming CBD industry.
Chances are you know someone who either currently uses or is curious to use some form of cannabidiol, better known as CBD. Whether it’s your Uncle Joe talking about how it helps him with his joint pain or a celebrity like Jennifer Aniston touting how it relieves her stress and anxiety, CBD products have seen a major boost in sales over the last two years. In fact, New York-based investment bank Cowen & Co. released a study on the CBD market, estimating that the revenue would hit $16 billion by 2025.
“Many people are desperate for a natural alternative to pharmaceuticals. This plant has been known throughout history to have healing properties, medicinal properties, despite not a lot of FDA evidence,” Noelle Skodzinski, editorial director of Cannabis Business Times told Fox News. “People are just starting to try it and they’re finding relief from anxiety, insomnia, joint pain and chronic pain.”
CBD is one of over 80 chemicals known as cannabinoids in the Cannabis sativa plant, also known as marijuana or hemp. “Hemp” is a term used to define varieties of Cannabis that contain 0.3 percent or less of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive compound that gets people high.
Cannabis plants contain dozens of chemical compounds called cannabinoids.
“It [CBD] doesn’t make you high, but it has effects on multiple other chemicals in the body and in the brain. So, for example, in the brain, it can elevate chemicals that are important for regulating anxiety and mood,” Dr. Yasmin Hurd, director of the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai told Fox News.
One of the reasons why CBD has become so popular lately is because it’s only been available for most of America since the 2018 Farm Bill was instated. The bill removed CBD’s classification as a Class I Drug, which includes narcotics like heroin and cocaine, but left the legality of its use up to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and states.
Companies have jumped at the chance to market products like oils, dietary supplements, cosmetics, animal treats, hand lotions, tinctures and vaporizer cartridges. And although it’s currently illegal to market CBD by adding it to a food or labeling it as a dietary supplement, plenty of CBD products including sparkling waters, candy and other edibles are being sold.
Currently, the FDA has only approved one CBD product, a prescription drug that treats two rare and severe forms of epilepsy.
The FDA approved Epidiolex, which contains a purified form of cannabidiol (CBD) for the treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome in patients 2 years of age and older.
“There are not many studies that have definitively shown CBD to be efficacious except for these two rare forms of childhood epilepsy,” Dr. Hurd said. “There are a number of small studies that have shown an indication that CBD might be effective for anxiety. Might be effective as an antipsychotic. Might be effective as to decrease cravings for people with a substance use disorders, but those studies are still very small in terms of the sample sizes that have been done.”
While a quick Google search can pull up small tinctures of CBD oil between $30-$150, how can consumers know which products are worth all the hype—and money? Some experts claim manufacturers may be taking advantage of loopholes in the existing regulations, or lack thereof.
“Right now, because there is no FDA oversight, there hasn’t been any evaluation on efficacy, safety or dosage,” said Skodzinski, who is also the editorial director for the magazines Cannabis Dispensary and Hemp Grower.
New York-based investment bank Cowen & Co. released a study on the CBD market, estimating that the revenue would hit $16 billion by 2025.
Consumers can look out for a few red flags when it comes to knowing which companies might be trying to sell you fraudulent CBD products Skodzinski said.
1. False medical claims
“If a company is claiming any kind of direct health or medical benefits, that’s a red flag. That’s the first red flag because that is illegal to do. They can’t market as a dietary supplement and they can’t make medical claims right now.”
2. Lack of third-party testing
“The first thing I would look for is a company that publishes third-party testing results, ideally on their website. Third-party laboratories will provide certificates of analysis and they should show CBD contents, and contents of any other cannabinoids. And then they also should have test results that show that it’s free of unsafe levels of pesticides, molds, and heavy metals.”
According to the FDA, the agency has only seen limited data about CBD safety and says it has the potential to cause liver injury, affect the metabolism of other drugs, which could cause serious side effects and may increase the risk of sedation and drowsiness when used with alcohol or other types of depressants.
The FDA is currently setting up regulations for CBD products, specifically looking at ways to verify the percentage of CBD and making sure THC isn’t present in them, Hurd said.
“We still don’t know how CBD accumulates in the body over time. So for skincare products, for your regular coffee, what are the long term impacts of CBD? Those are questions that they [the FDA] are trying to look into. Once they understand some of that, then they’re trying to set the regulations for how CBD products should be monitored, should be made and should be sold to the public,” Hurd explained.
Lindsay Carlton is a Senior video producer and writer for Fox Digital Originals. Follow her on Twitter @LCCARLTON