Jan 31, 2020 - Technology

Facebook steps up effort to fight coronavirus misinformation

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.

Go deeper: What's happening with the coronavirus

Go deeper

Coronavirus "infodemic" threatens world's health institutions

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The spread of the novel coronavirus outbreak is being matched, or even outrun, by the spread on social media of both unintentional misinformation about it and vociferous campaigns of malicious disinformation, experts tell Axios.

Why it matters: The tide of bad information is undermining trust in governments, global health organizations, nonprofits and scientists — the very institutions that many believe are needed to organize a global response to what may be turning into a pandemic.

Go deeperArrowFeb 25, 2020 - Health

Privacy group says Facebook isn't sharing all off-platform data with users

Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images)

Facebook is now offering users a feature that lets them see what data it has collected about their activities beyond Facebook, but a new report from Privacy International says that not all the advertisers that have uploaded individual user data to Facebook are included.

Why it matters: As the report notes, without more complete information, it is hard for users to fully exercise their rights under the EU's GDPR and other privacy laws.

World coronavirus updates: Recoveries exceed 300,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

China has lifted its lockdown of Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus outbreak was first reported, as other governments around the world tighten restrictions to stop the spread. Global recoveries surpassed 300,000 on Tuesday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed over 82,000 people and infected 1.4 million others globally as of Tuesday, per Johns Hopkins data. Spain has reported the most cases outside the U.S. (more than 141,000) and Italy the most deaths (over 17,000) as half the planet's population is now on lockdown.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health