Google is blocking all face mask ads to stem coronavirus misinformation

The move is a step up from its recent policy changes prompted by the ongoing health crisis.

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CNBC reports Google is enacting a temporary ban on all face mask advertisements. Last week, in a blog post, Google detailed the steps it’s taken in the wake of novel coronavirus or COVID-19. Among these was blocking ads capitalizing on the public’s concern over the illness. Google claims tens of thousands of these ads had been blocked in recent weeks. The company joins other tech giants in trying to curb bad actors from spreading misinformation and price-gouging panicked consumers.

Combatting opportunists — Google’s announcement aligns the company with Facebook’s advertising stance from last week. Facebook updated a coronavirus blog post to state it would temporarily ban ads and commerce listings for medical face masks, ban ads touting cures, and run free ads for health organizations trying to limit the spread of misinformation.

On the marketplace front, Amazon and eBay have been struggling to spot and remove listings of fake cures, and prevent sellers jacking up prices for face masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfectants. While eBay outright banned listings for these items, Amazon removed “tens of thousands” of malicious product listings. Would it truly be a pandemic without snake oil salespeople?

When it comes to coronavirus news and relevant ads, Big Tech is ramping up its policies day by day. Google has hidden results for coronavirus-related apps in the Play Store while Apple’s App Store is only allowing vetted apps powered by health organization information. Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are also doing their respective parts to only facilitate the spread of accurate information.

You don’t need really need a mask — The prevailing knowledge regarding masks is to keep the ones on the marketplace available for medical health professionals, those actually infected, and their caregivers. Wearing a mask preventatively has not been shown to be effective.