Facebook said on Wednesday it would ban advertisements for products offering any cures or prevention around the coronavirus outbreak, and those that create a sense of urgency around the situation. The disease, believed to have originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, has killed more than 2,700 people. The social network said it is removing ads that feature a product and imply a limited supply, seeking create a “sense of urgency” in their mention of coronavirus. Ads that guarantee a cure or prevention are also banned, it said.
Ads with claims like 'face masks are 100 percent guaranteed to prevent the spread of the virus' will not be allowed, a company spokesperson said. The announcement by the social-media giant comes as it faces increasing regulatory scrutiny over the type of content posted on its platform, specifically items reflecting extreme ideologies and fake news.
The ban went into effect this week. Facebook had previously banned ads, along with regular unpaid posts, that peddle fake cures such as drinking bleach, spread conspiracy theories about the virus, or discourage people from seeking medical treatment. The ban went into effect as the World Health Organization reported that the number of new cases outside China exceeded the number of new infections inside the country for the first time on Tuesday. The COVID-19 virus has now spread to at least 39 countries.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday alerted Americans to begin preparing for the spread of coronavirus in the United States after infections surfaced in several more countries.
Last month, Facebook said that it would remove content about the virus "with false claims or conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organizations and local health authorities", joining companies like TikTok and Pinterest.