By Kevin Zhang
Facebook has recently stated that it will start taking down fake claims of cures and unproven theories surrounding the coronavirus. As the virus spreads, so does misinformation that may seem credible on the internet, when in fact it is completely devoid of truth. The big tech company has stated they will “remove content with false claims or conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organizations and local health authorities that could cause harm to people who believe them”. Kang-Xing Jin, the head of health at Facebook, has said that it includes claims related to false cures that could cause confusion.
The social media platform wants to prioritize legitimate and credible information sources for its users, by letting select organizations run free ads that help educate people on the virus and also suggesting posts about the virus that agree with health experts’ advice into the feeds of users. The dissemination of credible news will help calm the false hopes or wild fears spurred by wild and false stories concerning the virus.
Google and Twitter are also making similar strides to combat misinformation regarding the virus. Now when people search for information about the coronavirus, Google will put up a special notice from the WHO. Youtube also said that it will only promote videos about the virus that are from credible sources. Twitter said that it would prompt users who search about the coronavirus to first visit official information sources. This campaign by Twitter is running in 15 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
The actions of these companies are significant because they have long been criticized for allowing the spread of misinformation on their platforms. Instagram vowed last year that they would remove and block more misinformation posted by anti-vaccination accounts, but it does not seem to have done that yet. Additionally, there has been recent outrage towards Facebook over election ads on its platform.
This new action taken by social media platforms against falsified claims regarding the coronavirus is just another stride in a campaign against the spread of misinformation. This event will help teach large media platforms on how to deal with the spread of fake news during the occurrence of a disaster.