Facebook bans face mask ads to fight COVID-19 price gouging

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Source : Techrunch

On Friday, Facebook  announced that it would further attempt to limit coronavirus-related chaos on its platform by banning commerce listings and advertisements for 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,” Facebook Director of Product Management Rob Leathern said in an update on Twitter. “We’ll start rolling out this change in the days ahead.”

“We are temporarily banning advertisements and commerce listings that sell medical face masks,” a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch. “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 will also limit any ads for medical products that imply a limited supply or create a sense of urgency among potential buyers, 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.

As fears of a novel coronavirus epidemic swell worldwide, online platforms have scrambled to stop price gouging and health misinformation. Amazon is working to eradicate “high priced offers” on products like hand sanitizer and face masks from its marketplace, while Ebay has banned all listings for N95 and N100 face masks, hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes. The online auction site will also reject any listings exploiting terms like “COVID-19” and “coronavirus.”

On Wednesday, Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) wrote an open letter to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos expressing concern over “continued reports of price gouging 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.


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