Facebook bans mask adverts
Those selling masks on Facebook have hit a stumbling block as the social networking giant is no longer allowing advertisements on certain parts of the site, like its popular Marketplace.
In an updated Covid-19 policy and protection document, Facebook announced that it would be automatically removing posts it deemed as “taking advantage of the pandemic”.
“Under our regulated policy, we’ve taken steps to protect against the exploitation of this crisis for financial gain by banning content that attempts to sell or trade medical and respiratory face masks, hand sanitisers, disinfecting wipes and Covid-19 test kits. This policy does not extend to offers or requests for mask donations.
“We’re working to remove content that contributes to the risk of real-world harm, including through our policies prohibiting co-ordination of harm, sale of medical masks and related goods, hate speech, bullying and harassment and misinformation that contributes to the risk of imminent violence.”
It said it would keep an eye on the situation and would assess content on the platform.
“We will engage with experts like the World Health Organization, government health authorities and stakeholders from across the spectrum of people who use our service, and will provide additional policy guidance when appropriate to keep members of the community safe during this crisis.”
Janice Roode said she saw first-hand how her posts were removed from the site’s Marketplace.“I have noticed it; you can’t even post anything close. I tried with different wording and not including words like face or masks in my post, but it all got removed.
“I even tried to use (the words) ‘face decoration’, but I think the use of the picture of the mask was the problem,” she said.Roode said the money from the sale of masks was helping her family as her husband, who was the main breadwinner, would only be receiving 50% of his salary for the next few months.
“My mother and I were sewing them together and this was helping us tremendously. I did manage to share it and this is how people are finding out about us. Word of mouth has been helping now.”Another mask seller, who asked not to be named, said he had noticed that his posts were being removed.
“It was about three days ago when they blocked them, but only on specific groups. If you post it on your own wall, then it works, but that doesn’t help because I am not reaching a lot of people – only my friends.”He said he had been negatively affected by the lockdown and was not receiving any income.
“It was helping me out a lot at the moment, because there is a big demand for masks. Now I don’t have a place to advertise them.”
When the Department of Health was asked about a boom in home-made mask sales and Facebook’s new policy, department spokesperson Popo Maja said: “We are encouraging home-made face masks that can be washed or cleaned like any garment.
“We strongly discourage disposable masks for use by the public. Disposable or medical masks should be reserved for health professionals and safety disposed off as medical waste.”
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