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Facebook Bans Ads and Commerce Listings for Face Masks Due to Coronavirus-Related Price Gouging



After announcing a range of new measures to help ensure that users are getting accurate information related to the coronavirus outbreak across both Facebook and Instagram, The Social Network has now taken the extraordinary step of banning all ads and commerce listings for medical face masks on its platforms for the time being.

As explained by Facebook:​

We are temporarily banning advertisements and commerce listings, like those on Marketplace, that sell medical face masks. We’ll begin to enforce this change over the next few days. 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. 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.”

Instagram chief Adam Mosseri provided some additional context for the decision via tweet:

Supplies are short, prices are up, and we’re against people exploiting this public health emergency.”

As noted by Facebook, it’s already implemented bans on ads like this which seek to capitalize on coronavirus concerns.

Facebook mask ad example

A quick look on Marketplace reveals the sort of price gouging Facebook’s now looking to address – take a look at the prices listed along the bottom row here.

Facebook Marketplace example

That one on the bottom right is $500 for a box of 50 face masks. I found a listing for the exact same product, exact same brand online, for $4.95. That’s literally a 100x mark-up. 

Head to any retailer, however, and you’ll find that face masks are in short supply. That’s lead to opportunistic sellers boosting their prices, which has now lead to Facebook implementing a total ban on such. And it makes sense – not only does Facebook want to avoid facilitating exploitative practices, but also, as many health officials have noted, wearing a face mask won’t necessarily protect you from contracting coronavirus either way.

The US Surgeon General has even gone a step further, actively urging Americans not to buy face masks.

Given the advice from health officials, and the hugely jacked up prices being posted, Facebook seems justified in its action – though it is a significant stance for The Social Network to take.

Really, the coronavirus outbreak is the first major test of Facebook’s advanced systems that it’s implemented to respond to evolving issues like this, which the platform has been developing since the US Presidential Election in 2016. In some ways, the election of Donald Trump served as a key inflection point where Facebook’s influence became real, where people started to question just how significant the platform had become, and how it could be used to influence billions of people. Before that, it feels like Facebook was seen as significant, but not a big deal – people used it, but it wasn’t serious.

Now, there’s greater awareness of the platform’s impact, and not only externally, but internally as well. That’s why Facebook is now working to address concerns as they rise, and protect users from misinformation and exploitation as a result of rising concerns. 

So far, Facebook seems to be meeting the challenge, but with the rate of infection growing, we still have a long way to go. And aside from that, the US Presidential Election race is also rolling on, which will present no doubt present similar challenges of its own. 

There’s a reason why Facebook’s staff headcount has increased 26% year-over-year, with more employees needed to moderate and improve its measures in this respect. We’re now seeing the results of those measures.


TikTok Announces Updated CAP University Marketing Education Course



TikTok Announces Updated CAP University Marketing Education Course

Looking to gear up your TikTok marketing game as we head into the new year?

This could help – this week, TikTok has announced the Fall Semester curriculum of its Creative Agency Partnerships (CAP) University program, which aims to ‘teach agency creatives how to show up on the platform’.

As outlined in the video clip, CAP University aims to provide in-depth training and insight for marketing and ad partners, to help them maximize their use of the platform for their clients’ promotions.

The initiative was first launched back in April, with an initial course run, but now, TikTok has updated its lesson plan for the next phase.

The most significant new addition is ‘Content to Cart’, which explores the potential of eCommerce in the app, via its evolving set of product and shopping showcase tools.

That’s a key focus for TikTok, which has already seen big success with in-stream shopping elements in the Chinese version of the app. TikTok’s hoping to further integrate the same over the next year, as part of a bigger push to expand user behaviors, and maximize revenue and creator monetization opportunities.

As such, it could be a valuable addition to the CAP University curriculum, both for TikTok and participants. If TikTok can get more brands considering their commerce opportunities, that could help to guide more action and interest, which may be another lever to drive shopping interest.

It’s not open to everyone, but for agency personnel looking to up their TikTok knowledge, it could be a worthy consideration.

You can learn more about CAP University’s Fall Semester curriculum here.

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