How social media giants are fighting misinformation on Coronavirus 

Miscreants could use social media channels to spread misinformation on Coronavirus, but social media networks have joined hands in the fight to stop every such piece of content from being distributed on social media.

At a time when the number of Covid-19 cases around the world is past 266,000 and the death toll has crossed the 11,000 mark, misinformation on Coronavirus can prove deadlier and damage people’s confidence around the world. However, the social media channels that could be used to spread misinformation have joined hands in the fight to stop the flow on all the leading platforms. The joint industry statement from Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Reddit, Twitter, and YouTube was published on a Facebook page. The statement reads:

“We are working closely together on COVID-19 response efforts. We’re helping millions of people stay connected while also jointly combating fraud and misinformation about the virus, elevating authoritative content on our platforms, and sharing critical updates in coordination with government healthcare agencies around the world. We invite other companies to join us as we work to keep our communities healthy and safe.”

Facebook, Google, Twitter, Linked In & Reddit fighting misinformation
Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Apart from helping millions around the world stay connected with others from the confines of their homes, these social media channels are also combating fraud and misinformation about the virus, sharing informative and authoritative information as well as critical updates in coordination with the government healthcare bodies worldwide. At this time, several nations are reeling due to Corona including Italy and Spain. The death toll has surged in Italy and grown higher than China’s death toll which was the epicenter of the outbreak. In such a  time, a wave of misinformation has also swept by which can prove potentially damaging for the efforts governments and healthcare agencies around the world are making to prevent the outbreak. While there are other channels also that fraudsters can use, if the social media giants can keep a strict watch, that can prevent the dissemination of fake news as well as fraudulent offers related to Corona’s treatment to a very large extent. The efforts taken by the social media networks in this regard till now are laudable. However, apart from keeping vigil on its own platform, Facebook is also supporting the WHO in its efforts for the prevention of Covid-19 through financial support.


Tech Giants Club Together to Fight Misinformation

People around the world are keenly following new resources to stay updated about Covid-19 which has stifled life in most corners of the world like nothing else did in the last several decades. While the death toll from Corona has gone past 11,000, and businesses are shutting down or asking people to work from home, the government’s efforts could be stifled by miscreants trying to profit from the situation. It is a time when the tech industry’s capabilities are being put to test and whether they can successfully address the spread of misinformation is a big question. 

Social media networks including Facebook, YouTube, Linked In, Twitter and Reddit are highlighting information from authority resources including CDC, WHO and other local government resources in the various corners of the world to help people access the right information. Coronavirus has brought the world to a standstill but misinformation can grow the level of fear and panic among people and cause the damage caused by Coronavirus to grow. There are several healthcare hoax sites on the worldwide web and according to sources, these sites have been receiving a nice level of engagement over the past three months. In such a time, the burden of carrying out a fact check to separate credible information from misinformation as well as that of connecting people with the right information is also on tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. Facebook is using its global network of third-party fact-checkers to review content and debunk false claims related to Corona and its treatment. Google and Apple are also proactively banning apps from their platform that are not from authority or credible sources.

What are Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and others doing to prevent misinformation?

Facebook has employed a global network of third-party fact-checkers who are working to review the content and debunk false claims related to Coronavirus. When fact-checkers have flagged a piece of information as false, the platform limits its distribution on Facebook and Instagram and shows people accurate information from credible resources. Apart from that, it notifies people who have already shared such content or are sharing it that it has been fact-checked. Not just this, Facebook is also removing content that has been flagged as false or contains false claims or conspiracy theories that health care agencies and government authorities have flagged as false and dangerous. Facebook is especially focusing on content that can discourage treatment or false treatment methods. There are false claims also being spread using social media like drinking bleach can cure coronavirus. Facebook is also blocking the use of hashtags for spreading misinformation on Instagram and removing such content from the platform as proactively as possible. Facebook is also partnering with leading healthcare organizations around the world to grab accurate information and share it with the users. Facebook is using messages on the top of news feeds as well as educational pop-ups on Facebook and Instagram to make credible information more accessible. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been proactively working to offer support to prevention services from his platform. His company is also providing financial aid to support the fight against Coronavirus.

“A lot of people have told us they want to help fight coronavirus but aren’t sure how, so we’ve worked with the United Nations Foundation and the World Health Organization to start a COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, where anyone can go to make a donation.

Facebook is matching up to $10 million in donations, and 100% of funds will directly support the work to prevent, detect and respond to the outbreak around the world. We’ll also match $10 million for the CDC Foundation, which will launch a fundraiser in the next few weeks focused on combating the outbreak here in the US.

Thanks to everyone who is working to minimize the impact of the pandemic. More to come soon.”

Mark Zuckerberg was live on Facebook on March 19th with Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert involved in leading the government’s response to COVID-19. In the interview, they discussed how people could help prevent the spread of Coronavirus and what governments around the world are doing to contain the spread. Facebook also banned ads and commerce listings for hand sanitizer, surface disinfecting wipes and COVID-19 testing kits on its platform from March 19th.

Twitter and YouTube are also highlighting information from government sources on Covid-19 in search results on their platforms. Like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are also using notifications and messages in their feeds to let users access credible, verified and up to date information about the situation on their platforms.  

Abhijeet Pratap

Abhijeet has been blogging on educational topics and business research since 2016. He graduated with a Hons. in English literature from BRABU and an MBA from the Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi. He likes to blog and share his knowledge and research in business management, marketing, literature and other areas with his readers.