Facebook has become the latest major tech giant to introduce a ban on the sale of surgical face masks as part of a concerted effort to prevent unscrupulous vendors from exploiting public coronavirus panic.
The blanket measure will outlaw all such advertisements posted on the social network in addition to peer-to-peer trading on Facebook Marketplace.
Facebook’s director of product management Rob Leathern said: “We’re banning ads and commerce listings selling medical face masks. We’re monitoring Covid-19 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.”
Facebook's move follows the UK's Advertising Standards Authority last week censuring ‘alarmist’ adverts promoting face masks.
The coronavirus crisis has swept up brands, with even the makers of hand sanitizer products facing tight restrictions on what they can place in their marketing and communications. The US Food and Drug Administration, for instance, has forced Purcell to keep its hands clean by blocking any overt mention of Covid-19, or even participating in wider conversations around preventative measures.
Elsewhere in the tech world, eBay and Amazon have also joined efforts to stop price gouging on selected products as panicked consumers seek to horde products ranging from toilet paper to pasta. In a bid to contain the situation, the Competitions and Markets Authority has issued a warning of its own to retailers, pledging to take ‘direct enforcement action’ against any breach of consumer protection laws via price gouging or unsupported marketing claims.