Facebook announced Friday that it will be banning ads related to the sale of medical face masks to prevent companies from taking advantage of the coronavirus outbreak. Rob Leathern, head of the Trust/Integrity team at Facebook, tweeted “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.” The changes will not be immediate and will roll out over the next few days.
In general, officials are spreading awareness regarding the misconception around face masks. Face masks are meant to prevent the infected from spreading the virus, not to prevent one from catching the virus. Masks do little to nothing in preventing one from being infected by the coronavirus. The best method of prevention is washing your hands regularly with soap and sanitizing your hands. The unnecessary purchase of face masks by civilians has already caused a shortage of masks in many regions, putting hospitals at risk.
Facebook is going further by preventing coronavirus-related claims on product listings, preventing companies from manipulating sales using the situation. The company’s statement says, “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.”
Facebook is also redirecting Instagram searches related to the coronavirus to health authorities like the CDC and WHO, and other local health authorities. This is another step taken by the tech giant to prevent the spread of misinformation. Instagram is also fact-checking misleading posts and blocking/restricting hashtags that can be used to spread misinformation.
We’re removing known harmful misinformation related to COVID-19, and when someone taps on a hashtag related to COVID-19, we show resources from @WHO, @CDC and local health authorities. pic.twitter.com/Dw2Y8ZwfaI— Instagram Comms (@InstagramComms) March 6, 2020
Finally, we’re thinking through a longer term solution to help connect people searching COVID-19 related terms with credible information. In the meantime, we’re showing the accounts of leading health organizations in these searches to better connect people to credible resources. pic.twitter.com/RUNwJh94Cf— Instagram Comms (@InstagramComms) March 6, 2020
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook, also released a personal statement about the steps his company is taking regarding the outbreak.
What do you think about the steps Facebook is taking to curb misinformation? Let us know in the comments!
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