Facebook bans face mask adverts to stop people ‘exploiting’ coronavirus fears

Facebook has issued a ban on adverts for medical face masks amid fears sellers are unfairly exploiting panic around the coronavirus outbreak.

With more than 100,000 coronavirus cases now confirmed globally, many members of the public have taken to wearing masks while on the move.

But advice from the World Health Organisation states that healthy people do not need to wear masks.

They should only be worn if you are coughing or sneezing, or if you are taking care of someone suspected to have the infection.

In an update issued today, Facebook's head of health Kang-Xing Jin said: "We are temporarily banning advertisements and commerce listings, like those on Marketplace, that sell medical face masks.

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"We already prohibit people from making health or medical claims related to the coronavirus in product listings on commerce surfaces, including those listings that guarantee a product will prevent someone from contracting it.

"We also have a dedicated channel for local governments to share listings they believe violate local laws.

"Our teams are monitoring the COVID-19 situation closely and will make necessary updates to our policies if we see people trying to exploit this public health emergency."

There is disagreement about how effective face masks are in a bid to contain the spread of the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommend wearing a face mask around other people and pets.

However, the NHS disputes how helpful this would be.

On its website, it says: “Face masks play a very important role in places like hospitals, but there is very little evidence of widespread benefit for members of the public.”

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