In a bid to halt the rapidly spreading panic and those ne’er-do-wells that seek to take advantage and profit off of those folks who’re perhaps a little more spooked than others, Facebook has confirmed that they’ve officially banned adverts for medical face masks from displaying on the social media site. For now.
If there’s one thing that we can take away from classic comic books it’s that there are always those of us that enjoy the panic and chaos that stems from societal unrest. Those select few people usually do it for any number of reasons: Fame, anger and jealously being very popular motivators. Yet more than any other factor, money has motivated villains since the dawn of the coin. Such is the case with naughty sellers on Facebook selling medical face masks, capitalising on the current fears surrounding the coronavirus.
Facebook is having none of it however as the company has officially confirmed that it will no longer allow ads for medical face masks on its platform for the foreseeable future. “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. We’ll start rolling out this change in the days ahead,” tweeted out Rob Leathern, Director of Product Management at Facebook.
This is all in attempt to halt probably a pandemic worse than the coronavirus itself: Fake News. Facebook is specifically targeting ads that market preventative measures as “limited stock” or any fake cures while also honing in on coronavirus-themed pages and groups. Facebook is one of the most recent companies to clamp down on coronavirus-themed ads with eBay already banning the sale of face masks, disinfectant wipes and hand sanitisers.
Closer to home, Takealot was forced to take action after sellers were using their platform to sell 50-packs of medical face masks for R2000. Takealot responded quickly, ensuring the products were removed and have been keeping an eye open for anyone else taking advantage of the market place.
The spike in sales of sanitary products has caused medical professionals some concern as the industry begins to predict shortages of protective equipment. Facebook’s move to ban ads is certainly an important step forward in controlling the public panic. Now if only they could do that for the thousands of other fake news stories that flood the site everyday.