Facebook is banning face mask adverts temporarily in a bid to stop users from exploiting coronavirus-driven price gouging.
“We’re banning ads and commerce listings selling medical face masks. We’re monitoring COVID19 closely and will make necessary updates to our policies if we see people trying to exploit this public health emergency,” tweeted Facebook Trust and Integrity head Rob Leathern.
“We are rolling this out in the coming days, and anticipate profiteers will evolve their approach as we enforce on these ads.”
Leathern also requested that users report any ads relating to medical face masks so Facebook could shut them down.
This follows the World Health Organisation (WHO) releasing a statement which said the panic buying of medical face masks is putting the lives of health care workers at risk.
“Healthcare workers rely on personal protective equipment to protect themselves and their patients from being infected and infecting others,” said the WHO.
“But shortages are leaving doctors, nurses and other frontline workers dangerously ill-equipped to care for COVID-19 patients, due to limited access to supplies such as gloves, medical masks, respirators, goggles, face shields, gowns, and aprons.”
Facebook runs free coronavirus adverts
Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that Facebook would be running free adverts about coronavirus to protect users against misinformation.
“We’re focused on making sure everyone can access credible and accurate information,” said Zuckerberg.
“This is critical in any emergency, but it’s especially important when there are precautions you can take to reduce the risk of infection.”
Zuckerberg said that if users search for coronavirus on Facebook, they will find a pop-up advert which will lead users to the WHO’s website or to the user’s local health authority for more information on the virus.
“If you’re in a country where the WHO has reported person-to-person transmission, you’ll also see it in your News Feed,” said Zuckerberg.