Lately, social media has just been crawling with fake news, conspiracy theories and outright lies regarding the Coronavirus pandemic. These falsities are dangerous on many levels as the world is still dealing with this deadly new plague.
If you’ve had misinformation appear on your Facebook Feed and have liked, reacted or commented on it, you can expect to start seeing messages in your newsfeed alerting you that Facebook has removed the post containing the inaccurate or fictitious information.
In April of 2019, Guy Rosen, Facebook’s VP of Integrity, said in a post that the messages will be shown to those who’ve interacted with these Quote unQuote fake posts that Facebook went on to remove. The alerts will connect people to a page displaying COVID-19 myths that have been debunked by the World Health Organization (WHO).
We ( Meaning Facebook ) 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. – Guy Rosen.
Facebook’s VP of Integrity
The Facebook alerts will specifically pertain to coronavirus-related misinformation that may possibly lead to physical harm. When it comes to other misinformation, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that after fact-checkers rate a post as false, the Facebook algorithm will reduce its distribution, as well as apply warning labels with more context and hunt down and flag duplicates.
In March of 2019, Facebook flagged about 40 million COVID-19-related posts with misinformation based on around 4,000 articles that were vetted by its fact-checking partners. That approach is apparently working, it said…
When people saw those warning labels, 95% of the time they did not go on to view the original content. – Facebook
Besides flagging what could potentially be bad information, Rosen said that Facebook also removed hundreds of thousands of pieces of misinformation that could lead people to harm themselves.
Examples of misinformation we’ve removed include harmful claims like drinking bleach cures the virus and theories like physical distancing is ineffective in preventing the disease from spreading. – Guy Rosen, Facebook’s VP of Integrity
Facebook is trying to make accurate coronavirus information easier to find. It will launch a new section on its COVID-19 Information Center called “Get the Facts.” It will feature articles that have been fact-checked by its partners that debunk the widespread misinformation about the coronavirus.
Facebook’s news curation team will select the articles and will update the section weekly. Soon, the “Get the Facts” info section will also be added to Facebook News in the US.
What other tech giants are fighting the “Misinformation War?”
Facebook not alone in waging war against the danger of fake news related to the pandemic. After the Coronavirus came to prominence in March 2019, that month saw a slew of coronavirus-related scams, myths and misinformation spring up from either cybercriminals, or people who’ve blindly forwarded messages without vetting either the information or the source.
There’s been a lot of misinformation disseminated regarding possible cures for the disease. There have been YouTube videos that claim that there is a connection between the virus and the location of 5G wireless towers. In fact, popular videos that perpetuate this false theory, and have racked up hundreds of thousands of views, have led to attacks on cellular towers.
In early April 2019, YouTube said it would limit the spread of this false 5G theory by suppressing content that makes similar claims.
As you can clearly see, this isn’t just a problem for Facebook of course, as all of the social media networks and many of the other widely used apps are wrestling with it.
In another extremely bizarre case, a tweet from a famous Indian actor placing blame for the coronavirus on journalists and Muslims, called for both to be lined up and shot. The tweet stayed up on Twitter for almost a full day before the platform deleted it and permanently suspended the actor’s account.