Facebook announced yesterday they are relaxing the restrictions around ads selling face masks, a rule they instituted in March.
The rule originally came into effect as Covid-19 was spreading, and a mask shortage was imminent. In order to prevent price gouging, hoarding, and spread of misinformation, Facebook made the decision to unilaterally ban any ads selling masks.
Phased Openings Driving Demand
As states have started re-opening, many have created new rules and guidelines for being in public.
One of those guidelines is wearing face masks to help prevent continued spread, with non-medical ones being acceptable.
This has driven demand among consumers looking to purchase reusable masks online, and causing less issue of medical ones being sought out.
Medical vs. Non-Medical Masks
Facebook has specified the ban on ads is being lifted for non-medical masks. They define non-medical masks as the following:
- non-medical grade
- masks not promoted with medical or health claims
- handmade or fabric masks
- reusable masks
- refashioned materials (notably things from clothing retailers who have started producing, like neoprene, etc)
Advertiser Restrictions for Selling Non-Medical Masks
Facebook has also noted that this ban lift will not apply to every advertiser who suddenly wants to get in the game and sell masks. They have outlined requirements around advertisers who are allowed to run these ads.
To prevent unknown entities from suddenly piling in and potentially scamming buyers, advertisers must meet some criteria.
The first is they must currently be in good standing with Facebook Ads, meaning no violations or disabled instances due to policy violation.
Advertisers must also have a minimum advertising history of at least 4 months, or be associated with a Business Manager of that age. The 4-month requirement is tied to the date advertising started – not the date the account was created.
For example, if a Page was created a year ago, but it never ran ads, it would not be eligible.
Ad accounts tied to a Business Manager that has run ads in the past 4 months will be allowed.
Geography Targeting Restrictions
Some countries had unusually high policy violations for attempting to sell medical equipment during the ban. For advertisers that reside in that country and meet the criteria above, they will only be permitted to run the mask-selling ads in their home country.
These countries include:
Facebook notes these restrictions are temporary.
Prohibited Content Tied to Mask Ads
There are also rules around the content within the ad and the landing page that ads take a user to.
There can be no medical or health claims made. This includes mentions of disease prevention, protection of the respiratory system, or ability to filter out germs.
If an advertiser wants to mention the community benefits of wearing masks, the ad and landing page cannot do so while tying it to the benefits noted above. It also cannot overstate claims about the benefits of masks.
They give the following example on the difference in language for this rule:
“‘We’ve pivoted our business to making masks to help keep our community healthy’ would be allowed, but stating ‘We’re stopping the spread of COVID-19 by making masks’ would not be allowed.” – Facebook policy
Restrictions are still in place for hand sanitizers, surface wipes, Covid-19 test kits, medical grade face masks. None of these may be used as a free gift with purchases, either.
The full policy on this change can be found here.