Facebook to ban ads for medical masks

Facebook to ban ads for medical masks
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Facebook has temporarily banned advertisements for medical face masks as the coronavirus continues to spread in the U.S., the social media giant announced Friday.  

The ban includes advertisements on the social media platform and its subsidiaries such as Instagram, and listings on Facebook Marketplace. 

Facebook Director of Product Management Rob Leathern said that the platform's ban seeks to curb those who are trying to take advantage of the virus outbreak. 

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“We’re banning ads and commerce listings selling medical face masks,” tweeted Rob Leathern, Facebook’s director of product management.  “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.”

Public health officials have encouraged the public to avoid buying medical face masks in light of the outbreak. The masks do little to protect average civilians, but a shortage could put medical professionals at risk. 

“We already prohibit 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,” a Facebook statement read.

“We also have a dedicated channel for local governments to share listings they believe violate local laws. 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.”

As of Saturday afternoon, there are 401 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. and 17 deaths, according to updated data from Johns Hopkins University.