Google face-mask ads draw New York scrutiny amid virus outbreak
New York has reached out to Google about online advertisements for medical face masks showing up in news articles and other web sites at a time when the products are needed by health-care workers dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, a person familiar with the matter said.
Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., last week said it was banning advertisements for medical face masks, but several ads were still embedded in news stories on Monday.
Letitia James, New York’s attorney general, flagged one of the ads to the company on Sunday and had asked Google to take it down to preserve the world’s dwindling inventory of the masks, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the matter isn’t public.
One such ad by Bestogoods.com depicts a woman wearing a large white mask being sold in packs of 10 for $98.99. The same ad offers 100 masks for $900.
Google has been working with New York for weeks to remove ads that are seen to be taking advantage of the crisis, according to the person.
“Since January, we have blocked millions of ads that attempted to capitalize on coronavirus and have implemented a temporary ban on all medical face mask ads,” a Google spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “We continue to take action to protect users and prevent these ads from” appearing.
Bestogoods.com, whose website lists an address in China, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.