Google is banning ads for medical masks from marketers trying to capitalize on the coronavirus scare
Google is cracking down on ads that feature medical masks that promote protection from COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. Google's existing policy blocked advertisers from promoting messages about coronavirus but did not include related products that marketers are peddling on e-commerce marketplaces. Facebook has also removed ads related to coronavirus. Click here for more BI Prime stories.
As concerns about COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, continue to grow and spread, Google is cracking down on ads that promote medical masks. On Monday, Business Insider flagged several mobile and search ads that promote medical face masks. A Google spokesperson said its advertising policy prohibits marketers from promoting ads that explicitly mention coronavirus and that it's blocked "hundreds of thousands of ads" over the past six weeks when coronavirus concerns began to grow. However, that policy does not include ads that don't mention coronavirus but promote products meant to capitalize off it. For example, the ads promote N95 masks, which are used to filter out particles in the air during wildfires, but are being marketed as products to help with coronavirus. Google said it would temporarily block ads over the next few days mentioning surgical face masks in all ads across mobile, search, and YouTube. "We're committed to protecting users and surfacing helpful, authoritative information as the coronavirus situation continues to evolve," said a Google spokesperson. "Out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to temporarily ban all medical face mask ads. We're actively monitoring the situation and will continue to take action as needed to protect users." Business Insider tried to contact advertisers behind some of these ads, including e-commerce marketplaces called Best Dang Stuff, Ziqi Goods, and Sea-North, multiple times on Monday. The advertisers did not respond to emails and calls for requests for comments. Facebook has also banned coronavirus-related ads that it said tried to "create a sense of urgency" around the virus or protection claims. Both Facebook and Google are dealing with a slew of misinformation spread across its platforms about coronavirus. The Google spokesperson said that the company is also working with publishers to give them more control over ad placements. Google is preparing its employees and rolling out features for coronavirus In addition to its ad policy, Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai published a blog on Friday saying tt hat Google has created a 24-hour response team that communicates with the World Health Organization to help make decisions about the tech giant's offices. He added that searches for the query "coronavirus cleaning advice" grew over 1,700% in one week in the US, leading the company to create a feature that alerts people with information from the World Health Organization on Google. Google is also donating ad space from YouTube to government and non-governmental nonprofits to promote information and resources for people about coronavirus.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: What it's like to ride the world's longest flight
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10 nurses were suspended from a California hospital for refusing to treat coronavirus patients without N95 masks
Ten nurses were suspended from a California hospital after refusing to work with coronavirus patients unless...Ten nurses were suspended from a California hospital after refusing to work with coronavirus patients unless they were given more protective equipment, including N95 face masks. The nurses at Providence St. John's Medical Center in Santa Monica started to make the demands after a colleague tested positive. They are barred from returning to work while the company investigates. Some of the nurses said they feared spreading the virus to their families. Another nurse said she tested positive after treating coronavirus patients. The CDC does not require nurses to have N95 masks when dealing with coronavirus patients, but medical staff across the country have objected. The hospital did not comment on the nurses' cases but said it was now giving N95 masks to nurses and acknowledged the "national shortage." Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Ten nurses in a California hospital were suspended after saying they would not work in the coronavirus ward if they were not given protection including N95 masks, The Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times reported. The Los Angeles Times reported that three nurses at Providence St. John's Medical Center in Santa Monica, California, were suspended on Friday. It came after they demanded more protective equipment after learning that a coworker had tested positive for the virus. Seven more nurses were suspended after making other demands over the weekend, a source told the LA Times. National Nurses United, a body which represents the nurses, said that the 10 nurses have been suspended, The Associated Press reported. The union said that they are now allowed to return to work until there has been an investigation from human resources, but that they are still being paid. Mike Gulick, one of the nurses who demanded the equipment on Friday, was determined not to bring the virus to his wife and two-year-old daughter. He would stop at a hotel to shower before going home after his shifts, the AP reported. He told the AP: "I went into nursing with a passion for helping those who are most vulnerable and being an advocate for those who couldn't have a voice for themselves, but not under the conditions we're currently under." And Jack Cline, another suspended nurse, told the LA Times: "We told them we're willing to reuse the same mask all day long and cover it up with a surgical mask, just issue us one mask a shift." "That's all what we're asking for." N95 masks can remove 95% of airborne particles, offering more protection for healthcare workers than other mask types. The CDC has not required that medical staff use N95 masks, and says that medical workers can work with regular surgical masks when treating coronavirus patients. But health care workers have been critical of the policy. Cline said: "I've been a nurse for 25 years; I don't need the CDC to tell me when I need an N95," "When I have a patient coughing directly in my face ... I'm not going into that room unless they provide me with one." Cline also said: "I'm immune compromised, I'm a diabetic." "They're saying I'm refusing my assignment, I'm not ... It's not that I'm afraid to go in there, I'm afraid because I don't have the equipment." Medical staff around the country have worked without masks amid a national shortage during the outbreak, or have re-used masks when dealing with more than one patient. The Food and Drug Administration says that N95 respirator masks "should not be shared or reused." Angela Gatdula, another nurse at the hospital, tested positive for the virus, and said she thinks she contracted it after treating coronavirus patients. She said the hospital told her that wearing a surgical mask, and not an N95 mask, would be enough. "They could've done more," she told the LA Times. "I don't want it to be one of our nurses who ends up needing hospitalization, needing ICU admission, possibly even dying." The Providence St. John's Medical Center told the LA Times that it could not comment on suspensions due to privacy laws. In a more general statement, it said "We are so grateful for the heroic work our nurses perform each day and will not let the actions of a few diminish the appreciation we have for all our nurses and their commitment to our community. ... Saint John's cherishes its nurses and is taking precautions sanctioned by leading world, national, state and local health agencies to ensure their safety." It also declined to say how many workers in the hospital have tested positive for the virus, again citing privacy laws. The hospital would also not elaborate on shortages to the AP, but said that, as of Tuesday, it was giving N95 masks to all nurses who work with coronavirus patients and are waiting to see if they have tested positive. It also said it was disinfecting masks daily. "It's no secret there is a national shortage," the statement said. Nursing unions across the US have protested or have organized protests over the shortage of personal protective equipment like masks. Dr. Frank Gabrin, the first emergency room doctor to die of the coronavirus had told his friend before his death in March that he got infected after he had to wear the same mask four days in a row.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: How the Navy's largest hospital ship can help with the coronavirus
Google says it has removed 'millions of ads in the past week' relating to coronavirus, but users are still seeing ads for products like face masks
Weeks after Google said it banned adds for face masks, users still reported seeing them on...Weeks after Google said it banned adds for face masks, users still reported seeing them on news articles about COVID-19. Sens. Mark Warner and Richard Blumenthal have called on the FTC to take action against Google for continuing to serve advertisements for products like face masks and hand sanitizers. The company told Business Insider it's removed millions of ads in the past week alone related to the novel coronavirus. Google told Business Insider it has a "dedicated task force" working to remove such ads from companies violating its policies. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Weeks after Google said it was banning ads from companies attempting to profit off of panic surrounding the novel coronavirus, users still reported seeing ads for products like face masks served by Google Ads. Journalist and "Recode Media" podcast host Peter Kafka on Saturday said he was served an ad for a face mask on an article about a shortage of medical supplies published by The New York Times. "The more useful explanation is that Google's ad ops aren't set up to deal with an influx of bad actors trying to abuse it," he wrote. "If this sounds familiar it's because every big publishing platform has a version of that problem." "Google will catch up to this ad and ban it, but mask sellers will respond with new ads. They have lots of incentive to game the system," Kafka added. As Business Insider previously reported, the company on March 9 said it was temporarily banning ads for face masks, which lawmakers and health officials have said aren't all that effective in preventing the spread of the disease and are best left to be worn by medical workers. Amid concerns over the lack of necessary medical supplies to combat the virus as US cases continue to rapidly rise, hospitals have already reported running low and re-using masks. "We're committed to protecting users and surfacing helpful, authoritative information as the coronavirus situation continues to evolve," a spokesperson for Google said earlier in the month. "Out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to temporarily ban all medical face mask ads. We're actively monitoring the situation and will continue to take action as needed to protect users." Google previously removed advertisements that specifically mentioned the novel coronavirus by name, saying at the time it had already removed "hundreds of thousands of ads," according to the Business Insider report. A spokesperson for Google told Bussiness Insider on Saturday it had been removing advertisements mentioning the coronavirus since January. "In the past few weeks, we've seen opportunistic advertisers try to run an unprecedented number of these ads on our platforms," a spokesperson said. "We have a dedicated task force working to combat this issue and have removed millions of ads in the past week alone. We're monitoring the situation closely and continue to make real-time adjustments to protect our users." Here is a Google ad for masks, even though Google has said it has banned ads for masks. It’s running on an NYT story about a shortage of medical supplies. Like masks. pic.twitter.com/1zmWWWJaJm — Peter Kafka (@pkafka) March 21, 2020 Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut on Tuesday asked the Federal Trade Commission to take action against Google, CNN reported. The lawmakers — both Democrats — said their staffs still saw advertisements for face masks and hand sanitizer despite the Mountain View, California-based company's ban on such advertisements. "Google has made repeated representations to consumers that its policies prohibit ads for products such as protective masks. Yet the company appears not to be taking even rudimentary steps to enforce that policy," the senators added, according to CNN. On March 16 — one week after Google said it banned such ads — one user called out such face mask advertising on a Vox article about that detailed why masks weren't effective in attempting to limit the spread of COVID-19 among the general population. @vox, while I've been reading their site frequently, still has an ad for face masks IN THE SAME SECTION of the article about why wearing a face mask is a bad idea. pic.twitter.com/tW7ebgHTxK — anti-pete (@not_pete) March 16, 2020 Read more: How to use Houseparty, the app surging in popularity as the world social distances due to the coronavirus Trump keeps touting a decades-old malaria pill as a coronavirus 'game changer', undercutting his top infectious-disease expert An infectious disease expert explains how he stays safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and the hardest precaution he's had to take Leaked memo from top PR firm Weber Shandwick reveals guidelines for pitching reporters during the coronavirus Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: 8 weird robots NASA wants to send to space
The lack of proper masks, gowns and eye gear is imperiling the ability of medical workers...The lack of proper masks, gowns and eye gear is imperiling the ability of medical workers to fight the coronavirus — and putting their own lives at risk.