Coronavirus ads that promise cures and spread panic banned on Facebook

Facebook is banning ads that promise to cure coronavirus or incite panic around the outbreak in its latest attempt to prevent misinformation.

The tech giant said it now prohibits advertising that creates “a sense of urgency” about the Covid-19 illness, such as those that “imply a limited supply, or guarantee a cure or prevention”.

This includes ads with claims such as face masks are 100% guaranteed to prevent the spread of the virus.

Countries with confirmed cases of coronavirus
Countries with confirmed cases of coronavirus

The rules also extend to those trying to sell related items on the social network’s Marketplace platform.

Facebook already began cracking down on posts that promote fake miracle cures for coronavirus, such as false suggestions that drinking bleach is a solution.

“While we allow people to buy and sell masks on Facebook, we are taking a closer look at this group,” a Facebook spokesman said.

“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.”

Anyone who searches for coronavirus-related content will be directed to an education pop-up that links to a regional or global health organisation with credible information, Facebook said.

The development comes as travellers returning to the UK from northern Italy were told they may need to self-isolate as part of measures to stop the spread of illness.

Britons who have been in locked-down regions of Italy – including Lombardy and Veneto – were told they should self-isolate at home for 14 days even if they have no symptoms.

Public Health England has also said that flu patients will now be assessed for coronavirus to see if it is spreading.