Facebook is banning ads that promise to cure the coronavirus

ReutersFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
  • Facebook is tightening up its rules on ads that reference the coronavirus outbreak.
  • It is banning ads that mentioned it if they attempt to “create a sense of urgency” around the virus or promise to cure it.
  • Like other tech platforms, Facebook is has seen a wave of activity relating to the COVID-19 outbreak, including misinformation.
  • The company has also said it will take down false posts about the coronavirus entirely if they put people at risk.

Facebook is tightening up its rules on ads that reference the novel coronavirus, in an attempt to curtail misinformation and fearmongering about the outbreak.

The social network will now ban ads that mention it if they promise to cure or prevent the virus, or attempt to “create a sense of urgency” about it.

In a statement, a spokesperson told Business Insider: “We recently implemented a policy to prohibit ads that refer to the coronavirus and create a sense of urgency, like implying a limited supply, or guaranteeing a cure or prevention. We also have policies for surfaces like Marketplace that prohibit similar behaviour.”

Facebook, like other tech platforms, is currently grappling with a surge of panicked conversation and sometimes outright misinformation about COVID-19, which has sickened more than 79,000 people globally and killed more than 2,600 over the last few months.

Facebook utilises fact-checkers to check dubious claims and subsequently suppress them in its newsfeed, and in late January announced it was taking the additional step of outright removing false information about the outbreak “that have been flagged by leading global health organisations and local health authorities that could cause harm to people who believe them.”

Meanwhile, Facebook users are turning to groups on the social network to buy and sell medical face masks in bulk – something that risks hindering medical professionals’ ability to combat the outbreak.

Other tech companies are also experiencing a surge of unwelcome activity around the outbreak. On Tuesday, Wired reported that some third-party sellers on Amazon have been attempting to price-gouge customers looking for masks, jacking up their prices to many times what they would normally retail for.

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