Jan 30, 2020 - Technology

Facebook steps up effort to fight coronavirus misinformation

An illustration of a computer with a blue surgical mask covering its "mouth"

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Facebook said Thursday it will take further steps to ensure its social network is home to accurate information about the fast-spreading novel coronavirus.

Why it matters: The move comes as the World Health Organization has declared a global health emergency and amid the continued spread of misinformation through social media.

Facebook announced late Thursday it is removing more types of false information about the disease and adding modules with accurate information from the WHO within its news feed.

  • Facebook had already been offering ad credits to the WHO and Philippines Department of Health to help promote accurate data, while also returning dedicated information modules when users search for terms related to the outbreak.

Meanwhile: Google and Twitter are also taking steps to promote verified information.

  • YouTube is returning text results when people search for "coronavirus" and other terms, reminding users that the situation is rapidly changing while also aiming to point to authoritative video results. Google is also trying to put extra focus on verified information in search results, including showing details that have been fact-checked where possible.
  • Twitter has adjusted its results to point to authoritative, local-language information when people search for virus-related terms.

Tech companies are also following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and limiting all nonessential travel to China. Google has temporarily closed its offices in mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, while Apple has temporarily shut one of its stores in China.

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