Facebook announced they will begin alerting users after they’ve interacted with coronavirus misinformation. It’s the latest effort to curb the spread of wrong, misleading, or straight up fake claims related to the pandemic.
Teaming up with the World Health Organisation, Facebook will be sending users who like, comment, or react (whether it’s ‘Love’ or ‘Wow’ or Angry’) to posts that have been flagged or removed as “harmful” to a website debunking coronavirus myths.
Guy Rosen, Facebook’s Vice President of integrity, made the announcement in a blog post. He says Facebook will be working with a whole army of fact-checking organisations to stop the spread of misinformation and harmful content.
“We want to connect people who may have interacted with harmful misinformation about the virus with the truth from authoritative sources in case they see or hear these claims again off of Facebook,” Rosen wrote.
The messages will start appearing in the coming weeks.
The alerts have prevented people from viewing content that also prevents users from accessing thousands of pieces of misinformation that could lead to physical harm. For instance, the alerts have prevented users accessing claims like drinking bleach cures the coronavirus (it doesn’t, so don’t do it), and theories about the ineffectiveness of social distancing (which is very false, so stay inside).
CEO Mark Zuckerberg also posted to his Facebook page about the move, saying that one of his
top priorities is making sure that you see accurate and authoritative information across all of our apps.”
Rosen and Zuckerberg both claim that Facebook has issued warnings on about 40 million ‘false’ posts, as deemed by their fact-checking partners. More than 350 million people have clicked through to learn more from the WHO website, and around 95% of the time, users didn’t go on to view the original, flagged content.
Which is huge.
It’s hard enough for social media apps to prevent the distribution of false and misleading information. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and the like are breeding grounds for conspiracy theories (no matter how light-hearted) and fake news trolls to fester. And just because you may believe it’s false, doesn’t mean that everyone does.
This step is the latest effort by Facebook to promote facts from reputable sources about the coronavirus. Facebook has also provided WHO and other health organisations with free ads, whilst banning ads promoting fake COVID-19 ‘cures’, and have unveiled a coronavirus information centre as a home base of local and international coronavirus information.
Fake news doesn’t stand a chance.
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