Ever since coronavirus became a worldwide media sensation, many groups have expectedly been trying to take advantage of the situation in different ways. From trying to push their miracle cures to scams trying to sell you medical equipment that will surely kill the virus before it reaches your lungs.
There’s been another way that the malicious have been trying to take advantage of current anxieties, and that is by price-gouging highly in-demand items like face masks and hand sanitizers.
When supply is constrained, usually rise. But eBay has taken it upon itself to control the market in a rather extreme way. They decided to outright ban the sale of face masks and hand sanitizer until the situation blows over.
While their heart is in the right place, their decision seems a little extreme. Especially when other retailers that allow third-party sellers like Amazon have taken much less drastic measures.
Amazon has simply removed 530,000 listings and suspended 2,500 seller accounts over similar price-gouging tactics regarding face masks and hand sanitizer.
Merely hours after eBay announced their decision, Facebook followed suit.
A rather ironic decision on Facebook’s part after Mark Zuckerberg famously said in January that they will not control political ads, including misleading ones, and that people “people can see for themselves […] so they can make their own judgments.”
Update: We’re banning ads and commerce listings selling medical face masks. We’re monitoring COVID19 closely and will make necessary updates to our policies if we see people trying to exploit this public health emergency. We’ll start rolling out this change in the days ahead.
— Rob Leathern (@robleathern) March 7, 2020
“Update: We’re banning ads and commerce listings selling medical face masks. We’re monitoring COVID19 closely and will make necessary updates to our policies if we see people trying to exploit this public health emergency,” tweeted Facebook’s Director of Product Management Rob Leathern. “We’ll start rolling out this change in the days ahead.”
It is currently unclear whether these decisions are purely in the interest of protecting consumers out of the goodness of their hearts or if they’re a direct response to recently introduced the Shop Safe legislation.