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Sci-Tech
Friday Apr 17 2020
By
Web Desk

How is Facebook keeping misinformation about COVID-19 at bay?

By
Web Desk

With the emergence of the novel coronavirus, which was declared a global pandemic back in January, the world was led to a pool of information where the real challenge is to separate facts from fibs, especially in a state of health emergency.

In this regard, one of the most used social media sites, Facebook is working to connect people to accurate information from health experts and keeping harmful misinformation about theCOVID-19 from spreading on their related apps.

“We’ve now directed over 2 billion people to resources from the WHO and other health authorities through our COVID-19 Information Center and pop-ups on Facebook and Instagram with over 350 million people clicking through to learn more,” read the company’s website.

However, connecting people to credible information is only half the challenge. Stopping the spread of misinformation and harmful content about COVID-19 on social media apps and other platforms is also critically important.

Therefore, the social networking site is working in collaboration with over 60 fact-checking organisations that review and rate content in more than 50 languages around the world. In the past month, Facebook has continued to expand their program to add more partners and languages.

Since the beginning of March, eight new partners were added to this project while diversifying coverage to more than a dozen new countries. For example, the platform added MyGoPen in Taiwan, the AFP and dpa in the Netherlands, Reuters in the UK, and others.

According to the networking site, once a piece of content is rated false by fact-checkers, Facebook reduces its distribution and shows warning labels with more context.

“Based on one fact-check, we’re able to kick off similarity detection methods that identify duplicates of debunked stories. For example, during the month of March, we displayed warnings on about 40 million posts related to COVID-19 on Facebook, based on around 4,000 articles by our independent fact-checking partners,” said the Facebook authorities.

When people saw those warning labels, 95%of the time they did not go on to view the original content. To date, the site has also removed hundreds of thousands of pieces of misinformation that could lead to imminent physical harm.

Examples of misinformation that were removed from all Facebook platforms include harmful claims like drinking bleach cures the virus and theories like physical distancing is ineffective in preventing the disease from spreading.

For future, Facebook is also planning to share some additional steps to combat COVID-19 related misinformation and make sure people have the accurate information they need to stay safe.

According to the networking website, in order to make it easier for people to find accurate information about COVID-19, Facebook has recently added a new section to our COVID-19 Information Centre called Get the Facts. It includes fact-checked articles from our partners that debunk misinformation about the coronavirus. The fact-check articles are selected by our News curation team and updated every week.

The social media site also plans on showing messages in News Feed to people who have liked, reacted or commented on harmful misinformation about COVID-19 that was previously removed. These messages will connect people to COVID-19 myths debunked by WHO including ones that were removed from all Facebook platforms for leading to imminent physical harm.