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Big Tech goes all-out on to protect consumers from coronavirus scammers

Some online platforms are putting consumer security over revenue

Photo (c) da-kuk - Getty Images
There’s nothing like a good virus to bring opportunists out into the open. Facebook has made a smart move by locking out coronavirus carpetbagging ads that are trying to profit on the pandemic.

Via a statement to Business Insider, Facebook announced its ban on any ad run on its platform that dares to mention the word “coronavirus” in relation to prevention or remedy, as well as any ads which attempt to “create a sense of urgency” about the outbreak as a way to line their pockets. That ad ban also includes Facebook marketplace, where almost anything for sale is fair game.

The social media giant is also going the extra mile by putting valuable, legitimate information in front of any user who searches for “coronavirus.” In the past, the first things that would’ve popped up might’ve been groups, pages, and posts; now, the first thing that pops up is a box asking if you’re “Looking for coronavirus info? See the most up-to-date information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help you stay healthy and help prevent the spread of the virus.” 

Facebook has also vetted content from medical schools and health organizations and is also making that available to its users.

Amazon steps up protections

Seeing other world citizens donning masks to help guard against the virus, you can imagine that there’s been quite the run on items like masks, hand wipes, and other preventative products. And where better to buy them than Amazon, right?

The shopping mecca’s brass also made moves to prevent price gouging and false claims -- anything that tries to make a psychological play to get consumers to buy something they wouldn’t ordinarily purchase. As part of that sweep, it has blocked or taken down more than a million products that made what it perceives to be false claims about the virus and suspended or deleted deals from sellers it thought had raised prices unjustifiably.

Waiting on Google response

There’s no official word on what steps or bans Google has implemented, and it might be because it simply has so many tentacles that could be affected -- apps, YouTube, Gmail, Android devices, Google Assistant, wearables, et al -- with all the ads and third-party content that monetize those products and services.

The company is typically proactive in situations like this, and it’s safe to assume that it won’t be long before it, too, takes the situation head-on.

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