Facebook Bans Face Mask Ads To Avoid Coronavirus Price Overcharge

Facebook earlier this week assured that coronavirus-related searches on its platform would automatic attracts pop-up information from the World Health Organization and local health authorities.

Facebook Bans Face Mask Ads To Avoid Coronavirus Price Overcharge - SurgeZirc SA
Photo file: hris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg / Getty Images

In addition to tech giants effort to put a reasonable check on spreading coronavirus misinformation, Facebook on Friday announced that its effort to control misinformation about the epidemic will include banning businesses listings and advertisements for medical face masks.

READ MORE: Zweli Mkhize: 18 People Quarantined While 300 tested For Coronavirus

“We’re monitoring COVID19 closely and will make necessary updates to our policies if we see people trying to exploit this public health emergency. We’ll start rolling out this change in the days ahead,” Facebook Director of Product Management Rob Leathern Twitted.

Meanwhile, a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch, “We are temporarily banning advertisements and commerce listings that sell medical face masks.  Our teams are monitoring the COVID19 situation closely and will make necessary updates to our policies if we see people trying to exploit this public health emergency.”

Facebook said it will also limit all ads for medical products that imply a limited supply or encourage potential buyers to buy hurridly, as well as ads that make guarantees for COVID-19 “cures” or prevention. Along with those changes, in the next few days, Facebook will begin blocking coronavirus-themed groups and pages from its algorithmic recommendations.

Following an increasing fear of a fast-spreading coronavirus epidemic, online companies are seriously working on stopping overcharging of preventive materials and health misinformation.

For Amazon, it’s working to remove products with “high priced offers” on products like hand sanitizer and face masks from its marketplace. Ebay has banned completely all listings for N95 and N100 face masks, hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes while rejecting any listings exploiting terms like “COVID-19” and “coronavirus.”

Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), had on Wednesday written an open letter to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos expressing concern over “continued reports of overcharging and a lack of transparency” on the site.

“No one should be allowed to reap a windfall from fear and human suffering,” Markey wrote, adding that online retailers have a “particular responsibility” to protect consumers in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.

READ MORE: MEC Phophi Ramathuba Urged South Africans Not To Panic 

Then Facebook earlier this week assured that coronavirus-related searches on its platform would automatic attracts pop-up information from the World Health Organization and local health authorities.

“Given the developing situation, we’re working with national ministries of health and organizations like the WHO, CDC and UNICEF to help them get out timely, accurate information on the coronavirus,” Mark Zuckerberg wrote in an update on his company’s efforts. “We’re giving the WHO as many free ads as they need for their coronavirus response along with other in-kind support.”

The company is also focused on curtailing potentially life-threatening coronavirus misinformation, removing ads, conspiracy theories and treatment claims with no scientific basis.


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