Facebook will now allow ads for non-medical face masks, allowing third-party sellers to sell non-medical masks, including those that are homemade or handmade, in organic posts, ads and commerce listings on Facebook and Instagram, as it partially lifted its ban on mask ads. The company will still maintain a temporary ban on selling medical masks, such as surgical or N95 masks, to prevent people from exploiting the pandemic for financial gain.
The company had first banned ads selling face masks in March to avoid the exploitation of panic around COVID-19. It had also placed a ban on masks to prevent the inflation of prices of face masks and overcome their short supply. In fact, only last week, 3M filed a lawsuit against a seller on Amazon called KMJ Trading for selling medical N95 at 18 times than their original cost, as per the Wall Street Journal.
“Many health authorities now advise wearing non-medical masks — and in some places masks are required for activities like taking public transportation or visiting a store — and we’ve seen people and businesses of all sizes working to fill this need,” Facebook said in a statement. In India for instance, it is mandatory to wear a face mask when stepping out into public spaces.
How does Facebook define non-medical masks? People will now be able to trade masks that are “non-medical grade”, provided they are not marketed using medical, health or prevention claims. Common examples of non-medical masks include handmade masks, reusable masks or masks created out of household fabrics (cotton, cloth, denim, etc.) or refashioned non-conventional materials (neoprene, wetsuits, board shorts, etc.).
There are still certain restrictions: Facebook said only those sellers with a “good standing” to advertise non-medical masks, having a minimum advertising history of four months will be allowed to sell non-medical face masks on the two platforms.
Advertisers from countries where Facebook has seen “high percentages of policy-violating ads promoting medical supplies during the temporary ban”, will only be able to target non-medical mask ads to people in the country where their ad account is based. It isn’t clear how Facebook will ascertain these countries