It’s still easy to find coronavirus mask ads on Facebook
Ads for face masks are still appearing on Facebook, Instagram and Google, according to a review of the platforms carried out by the Tech Transparency Project (TTP). This despite pledges by the platforms that they would stamp out ads which seek to profit from the coronavirus pandemic.
Facebook said on March 6 that it would temporarily ban commerce listings and advertisements for medical face masks, in an effort to combat price-gouging and misinformation during the COVID-19 crisis.
The risk of online misinformation exacerbating a global public health crisis has been front of mind for policymakers in many Western markets. Meanwhile front-line medical staff continue to face shortages of vital personal protective equipment, such as N95 masks, as they battle rising rates of infection.
There has also been concern that online sellers are attempting to cash in on a public health crisis by price gouging and/or targeting internet users with ads for substandard masks.
A week later and ads are still circulating.
The TTP — a research project by the nonprofit Campaign for Accountability, a group which focuses on exposing misconduct and malfeasance in public life — reported finding web users still being targeted with face mask ads on Google this week.
It also conducted a review of Facebook and Instagram, and was able to find more than 130 pages on Facebook listing masks for sale, including some using the platform’s e-commerce tools.