Social media giant Facebook has reportedly banned ads related to the coronavirus that the site categorizes as “misinformation and harmful content.”
The Verge reports that social media giant Facebook is banning ads that promise to cure, prevent, or generally incite panic about the coronavirus. In a statement given to Business Insider, Facebook stated that it would be banning misinformation under similar policies implemented on its Marketplace platform where users can buy and sell goods.
Facebook told the Verge that it’s working to support the World Health Organization’s efforts “including taking steps to stop ads for products that refer to the coronavirus and create a sense of urgency, like implying a limited supply, or guaranteeing a cure or prevention. For example, ads with claims like face masks are 100% guaranteed to prevent the spread of the virus will not be allowed.”
This statement comes just one month after the company stated that it would be banning misleading information about the coronavirus from Facebook and Instagram. At the time, the firm stated that the policy would include content about fake cures or prevention methods of contracting the virus. A Facebook spokesperson told the Verge that these original policies applied to ads but that the rules relating to fearmongering to sell products are part of a new update.
Facebook has received criticism in recent months for its various advertising rules, particularly related to political advertising. The New York Times reported in a recent article titled “Facebook Says It Won’t Back Down From Allowing Lies in Political Ads,” that Facebook has no plans to fact check political ads on its platform despite intense pressure to do so. Ahead of the 2020 presidential election, Facebook reportedly refuses to make major changes to its ad policies or end practices such as micro-targeting which allow advertisers to focus on specific groups of Facebook users.
The New York Times writes:
“In the absence of regulation, Facebook and other companies are left to design their own policies,” Rob Leathern, Facebook’s director of product management overseeing the advertising integrity division, said in the post. “We have based ours on the principle that people should be able to hear from those who wish to lead them, warts and all, and that what they say should be scrutinized and debated in public.”
Other social media companies have decided otherwise, and some had hoped Facebook would quietly follow their lead. In late October, Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, banned all political advertising from his network, citing the challenges that novel digital systems present to civic discourse. Google quickly followed suit with limits on political ads across some of its properties, though narrower in scope.
Read more about Facebook’s refusal to back down from political pressure here.