As the coronavirus outbreak continues, Facebook announced that it is suspending ads and commerce listings for face masks, saying the social network will make necessary updates to its policies if it sees people trying to exploit this public health emergency.
The move comes days after the social media giant announced that it has canceled this year’s F8 Developer Conference over concerns about the dreaded coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Ebay already banned all listings for N95 and N100 face masks, hand sanitizer, and alcohol wipes while Amazon this week said it’s clamping down on sellers who are price gouging on items like face masks and hand sanitizer.
“We’re monitoring COVID19 closely and will make necessary updates to our policies if we see people trying to exploit this public health emergency,” said Facebook Director of Product Management Rob Leathern.
Facebook will start enforcing its move over the next several days as it’s keeping an eye on the circumstances surrounding the coronavirus and the illness it causes, COVID-19.
“We are temporarily banning advertisements and commerce listings that sell medical face masks,” the company said.
The company already prohibits people from making health or medical claims related to the coronavirus in product listings on commerce surfaces, including those listings that guarantee a product will prevent someone from contracting it.
“Our teams are monitoring the COVID-19 situation closely and will make necessary updates to our policies if we see people trying to exploit this public health emergency,” the company said.
Facebook-owned Instagram is also taking various steps to address problems around the coronavirus by removing COVID-19 misinformation, and when someone clicks on a hashtag related to the outbreak, Instagram shows resources from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and local health authorities.
Instagram is also banning “ads exploiting the situation,” as well as sending some posts to fact-checkers, blocking some hashtags, and displaying the accounts of leading health organizations when people search on terms that have to do with COVID-19.
Facebook earlier announced that coronavirus-related searches on its platform would be greeted with an automatic pop-up featuring 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,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Co-Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.