As the U.S. prepares for the spread of the coronavirus, Facebook says it is cracking down on misleading ads for products that falsely claim they can prevent or cure the disease.
“We’re 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,” Facebook said in a statement.
For example, Facebook will not allow ads claiming that face masks are guaranteed to prevent the spread of the virus.
Facebook says it’s removing content propagating false claims or spreading conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organizations and local health authorities that could harm people who believe them. This includes fake prevention methods or cures such as claims that drinking bleach cures the disease.
Coronavirus outbreak misinformation:Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter scramble to contain misinformation
Coronavirus, explained:Everything to know about Covid-19, the deadly virus alarming the world
Misinformation about the coronavirus has spread quickly since the early days of the outbreak, propagating conspiracy theories, falsehoods and fear. Major social media platforms including Google-owned YouTube and Twitter have taken steps to prevent the spread of false information and direct people to credible sources of health information.
Health topics are a common target of misinformation peddlers looking to mislead people with dubious information. Misinformation about disease outbreaks is even harder to control because of the intensity of public interest and fear and the flood of posts and videos.
During a news conference Tuesday, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, warned Americans they should prepare for a “significant disruption” due to coronavirus.
As of Wednesday morning, coronavirus has infected more than 81,000 people around the world and killed almost 2,800, mostly in China.