Facebook has revealed new measures to help stop spreading coronavirus misinformation.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the social network company is providing the World Health Organization (WHO) with “as many free ads as it needs” and that Facebook will be deleting false claims and conspiracy theories that have been flagged by global health organizations.
Zuckerberg says Facebook seeks to ensure users around the world are not getting misinformed about the virus outbreak and its risks.
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“We’re focused on making sure everyone can access credible and accurate information,” Zuckerberg says on a post to his own Facebook profile. “This is critical in any emergency, but it’s especially important when there are precautions you can take to reduce the risk of infection.”
Facebook users searching for coronavirus will see a pop-up through the search results, and it will direct them to the WHO or local health authority pages pertaining to the latest and relevant information.
“We’re also focused on stopping hoaxes and harmful misinformation. It’s important that everyone has a place to share their experiences and talk about the outbreak, but as our community standards make clear, it’s not okay to share something that puts people in danger.”
Zuckerberg claims Facebook is also going to be blocking people from running ads that try to exploit the virus outbreak — for example, people who claim that their product can provide a cure.
The CEO says his social media platform will attempt to stop “harmful misinformation” that appear in users’ news feed that capitalize on their worries and concerns. Zuckerberg says Facebook is also looking at how people can use its services to help contribute to the “broader efforts to contain the outbreak.”
Canadians on Facebook will see a pop-up in their News Feed directing them to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)’s website for the latest information. The pop-up will also appear as the first result for people who search for “coronavirus”.
Zuckerberg claims his researchers are already using aggregated Facebook data, including mobility data and population density maps, to better understand how and where the virus is spreading.
“In times of crisis people rely on communication tools even more than usual,” concluded Zuckerberg’s post. “That means that as well as helping people access information, we have a responsibility to make sure our services are stable and reliable to handle this load and we take that seriously too.”