Government has run no official Covid-19 ads despite “millions” in free credits

The government has not run any adverts from its official Instagram or Facebook accounts mentioning coronavirus despite being given “millions” of free ad credits.

Data released by Facebook today showed an absence of any paid adverts placed after weeks of the government attempting to change people’s behaviour.

There have also been no adverts run from Boris Johnson’s personal social media, with no money spent on his Facebook account since December 13th.

The official NHS account has run six Facebook and Instagram campaigns since the onset of the pandemic that advise people with symptoms to remain at home for two weeks.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced earlier in March that he would give the World Health Organisation as many adverts as it needs, and “millions” in free ad credits to other organisations.

A government spokesperson told Sky News: “The government is using all available channels, including Facebook and Instagram adverts to provide the public with the information it needs to fulfil its crucial role in delaying the spread of coronavirus.

“The response to our adverts has generated a huge amount of organic reach through our cross-government social media approach. This is in addition to the NHS messaging, which has been our priority so far.”

The adverts run by the government since the end of January don’t mention the virus specifically, although some have warned against the dangers of disinformation online. The government has spent £11,603 on these adverts in the past seven days.

Facebook records show that the official account of the Prime Minister spent close to £25,000 on three adverts towards earlier this year to promote public awareness of the fact that the UK is leaving the EU.

More from LabourList