Pioneering Scottish firm Screen & Shield has criticised a decision by Facebook to ban all ads selling face masks and coverings on the social network site.
The Edinburgh-based business was stunned to discover the adverts for its #sasMASK range had been blocked – just as people in England were set to join Scotland in making the wearing of masks in shops compulsory.
Founder Hass Peymani said: “This is plain bonkers – the ban simultaneously prevents people from finding good quality masks while massively decreasing the charitable revenue we generate for frontline health workers and local communities.
“It will be compulsory to wear a face covering in shops in England from July 24 – although in Scotland this has been the case since July 10 – or face a fine. Rules are also in place to compel people across the country to wear coverings on public transport.
“So with the population of 65 million people being told to wear masks when they go into a shop or supermarket, why has Facebook chosen this time to deny the public the chance to view and buy masks online?
“There has been no warning or notice given. We’ve just been guided to a link on Facebook that says ads for products like face masks were being temporarily prohibited.”
The guidance from Facebook states that during the unprecedented issues presented by the Coronavirus pandemic, it is temporarily prohibiting ads which commercially promote certain medical supplies and other high-demand products related to COVID-19 as they have been associated with exploitative behaviour. This currently includes the following products:
- Medical face masks, which includes masks intended for medical purposes (e.g. surgical masks, N95 respirators).
- Masks that resemble medical masks (e.g. homemade masks).
- Other masks related to COVID-19, such as face covers, bandanas, other functional masks that are positioned over the face or mouth.
Hass Peymani set up Screen & Shield from scratch after becoming alarmed at the poor quality and unavailability of face masks for his family as he faced lockdown with a pregnant wife and his dad in a high-risk category.
Hass spent 10 weeks exhaustively researching the market and supply chains, before launching his #sasMASK brand from home, in the midst of national lockdown.
Hass said: “From a standing start, we are building a reputation as the UK’s premier face mask supplier.
“But we are a new e-commerce company and so we rely heavily on being able to reach a wide sweep of potential customers through the likes of Facebook.
“This ban on our ads could have major implications for the success of Screen & Shield, at a time when we have recruited two new staff (who had lost their previous jobs due to Covid-19 economic strains) and are advancing our expansion plans.
“I fully support the drive to root out the unscrupulous traders, but why impose a blanket ban on everyone? This is a horribly destructive and potentially dangerous response from Facebook. Surely they could apply some algorithm to ensure genuine, reputable companies like Screen & Shield are able to continue to post ads?”
Unlike many of the masks on the market, the #sasMASK is manufactured in Europe and complies with the latest material and layering guidelines for non-medical-grade face coverings. Screen & Shield are also donating 10% of all online sales to NHS-related charities.
The #sasMASK has not only been designed to be washable, comfortable and affordable but also comes in more than 30 designs; with this range due to double in size in the coming weeks.
Screen & Shield can work flexibly with businesses of all sizes, providing small orders for the likes of cafes and shops, to providing bulk orders with large firms, and offer custom branding to any and all. Business customers can also benefit from the ‘Team Vouchers’ system, which provides pre-paid voucher codes so staff can choose their own designs.
Since its launch, Screen & Shield have had more than 1,500 orders from individuals, businesses and community groups from around the UK and new supplies of tens of thousands of custom #sasMASKs are being produced to keep up with demand.
Screen & Shield is largely operating as an e-commerce business, using its website https://screenandshield.co.uk/ and social media to drive awareness and sales, particularly facebook.com/screenandshield/. From its fledgling start, the business is already approaching 1,500 Followers/Likes and 17,000 people have viewed its launch video.
For more information on Screen & Shield – go to: https://screenandshield.co.uk/