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📺 This week on "Axios on HBO": Rep. James Clyburn, the Democratic "kingmaker" largely credited for Biden's surge, says he thinks President Trump is a racist and warns the U.S. "could very well go the way of Germany in the 1930s" (clip); DNC chair Tom Perez talks diversity, coronavirus and the future of the Democratic party; plus much more. Tune in Sunday 6 pm ET/PT on all HBO platforms.
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios
Tech platforms have gotten smarter about handling deliberate disinformation from bad actors. But the coronavirus' spread presents a different kind of misinformation threat: False information spread by people who are well-intentioned, but fearful and naive.
Why it matters: Bad coronavirus information spreading across Facebook, Twitter and other platforms could lose lives.
The threat was vividly illustrated Thursday when actress and activist Alyssa Milano tweeted out an image (later deleted) listing incorrect recommendations for how to avoid contracting the virus.
The big picture: In the coming days, the problem may get worse as the disease — and rumors — spread. Crises usually require the public to figure things out in real time, University of Washington researcher Kate Starbird told Axios.
"Unfortunately, though, people don't always get everything right — and even the 'best' information changes over time. One byproduct of this 'natural' collective sensemaking is misinformation, unintentionally spread."— Kate Starbird
The major platforms all say they are prepared and are already taking action. However, many of their statements point to actions and policies devised to combat deliberately-spread disinformation.
Twitter isn’t seeing large-scale coordinated efforts to game the platform to boost bad COVID-19 information, the company’s global trust and safety vice president Del Harvey said in a statement to Axios.
"As is standard, we will remove any pockets of smaller coordinated attempts to distort or inorganically influence the conversation. Additionally, we’re continuing to review and require the removal of Tweets that do not follow the Twitter Rules — half of which we catch before they’re ever reported to us."— Del Harvey
Facebook generally leaves the work of finding misinformation (as opposed to deliberately posted disinformation) to third-party fact-checkers. However, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook Live event on Thursday that the company is taking a "pretty hard line" on coronavirus misinformation such as fake cures.
"In the American tradition around free expression, you can say a wide variety of things, but you can't yell, 'fire' in a crowded theater, because it puts people in imminent danger. ... A lot of health misinformation fits into the category of potentially putting people into imminent danger."— Mark Zuckerberg
YouTube initially turned off the ability to monetize content related to the virus, but has turned it back on for news organizations and creators who follow its guidelines in hopes of promoting the spread of authoritative content.
Meanwhile: There's also been a spike in deliberate cyberattacks, phishing and spam messages that use the virus as a pretext or that impersonate an official source like the CDC, the World Health Organization or institutions like Johns Hopkins.
Our thought bubble: In a crisis like this one, remembering media-literacy best practices may not be at the front of our minds. But right now it's even more essential to check the source of your information, make sure it's up to date, and examine the credentials of whoever is offering advice.
Yes, but: Starbird points out that social media can also be a force for good, allowing people to ask for and get help, locate scarce resources and find community in a moment of fear.
Nearly 40% of electronics manufacturers feel worse about the impact of COVID-19 on their business than they were a month ago, according to an updated survey being released later today by from electronics industry trade group IPC.
Why it matters: Although the coronavirus outlook in China is improving, elsewhere the situation has deteriorated. Plus, most companies are now dealing with problems on both the demand and supply sides of their businesses.
Among the other findings:
What they're saying: IPC chief economist Shawn DuBravac told Axios that although delays remain, the information has been largely clear and consistent, allowing companies to take orders.
Photo illustration: Axios Visuals
Thursday was a rough day for Airbnb. It started with a lawsuit from IBM, continued with financials leaking that show the company's losses were growing even before COVID-19, and ended with a new study showing that the short-term rental market is cratering.
Why it matters: Airbnb is under pressure to go public this year, in part because it said it would, and also because some employee stock grants will expire.
Driving the news:
Go deeper: Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva has more on those last two points here.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Broadband providers are making service changes as policymakers pressure them to prepare for a glut of traffic from Americans working and studying from home in response to coronavirus, Axios' Margaret Harding McGill reports.
The big picture: The nation's internet service providers say they haven't seen big usage spikes yet, but the coming weeks and months could pose an unprecedented test of their networks' ability to withstand a massive and sustained surge in bandwidth needs.
Driving the news: Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai spoke with broadband companies and trade associations Thursday about ensuring Americans can remain connected to the internet as coronavirus spreads, according to two people familiar with the discussions.
Where it stands: Both AT&T and Comcast on Thursday announced changes to their services in response to coronavirus.
What's next: Broadband companies say they are monitoring network usage, but their capacity has not been taxed by coronavirus-prompted home use.
Go deeper: Margaret has more here.
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