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Available Expert - Advertisers taking advantage of consumers during coronavirus outbreak

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Queen’s University researcher Monica LaBarge is available to comment on Google displaying ads for products that claim to protect against coronavirus, which is against its policy. As coronavirus cases continue to spread around the globe, online ads for hand sanitizers, gloves, masks and other products purporting to prevent sickness are everywhere. Facebook is another company having issues with third party companies using the platform to make money from coronavirus concerns.

“If you take the lack of control consumers feel about what to do to protect themselves from this virus, along with deceptive advertising that touts products that don’t work, as well as potential falsehoods about ‘limited supply’ and price gouging, you have a perfect storm of unethical marketing behaviors,” Dr. LaBarge says. “From the Facebook/Google side, this is just another example of how their business model has come to rely on algorithms to catch “illegal” behaviour, but it just can’t keep up. It’s like playing whack-a-mole.”

To arrange an interview, please contact communications officer Anne Craig (613-533-2877 or anne.craig@queensu.ca) at Queen’s University News and Media Services Department in Kingston, Ont., Canada.

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