Advertisements and market listings for medical face masks are still searchable on Facebook nearly two weeks after the company said it would ban marketing for the protective gear.
Facebook said on March 6 that it would ban advertisements and commerce listings of any kind for medical masks, but nearly two weeks later several companies selling the masks, along with their marketing messages remain.
As of March 8, N95 Surgical Face Mask For Sale can be found on the site under the category of Health/Beauty. Great Hawk Air Service posted on March 7 also has a marketing post on Facebook that reads “Available: N95 Respirators for Prevention from Coronavirus.”
“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,” according to Facebook.
Public officials have said the advertisements contribute to the nationwide shortage of face masks that have become protective gear for medical professionals.
With face masks in short supply, a spokesperson at Providence St. Joseph Health told one media outlet that staff members bought supplies at craft stores and Home Depot to make their own face shields from marine-grade vinyl, industrial tape, foam and elastic.
Despite pleas by health officials and steps taken by Facebook and search engines like Google and Bing, consumers are still buying up face masks. Some 47% of consumer clicks went to ads for face masks during the first two weeks in March, according to Kantar’s analysis.
Paper towels and toilet paper, two other highly sought after products, were the next most popular categories, garnering 20% and 14% of all clicks respectively.
Kantar also analyzed products used to kill germs on hands and surfaces, with general hand sanitizer receiving 8.6% of total clicks, while ads for Lysol brand wipes received 2.7% of all clicks, followed closely by ads for general disinfectant wipes at 2.6% of clicks.
Ads displaying for the brand terms Purell and Lysol each collected 1.8% of clicks, while ads for the general terms disinfectant and hand wipes each gained less than 1% of clicks.