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Major Social Media Platforms To Prevent Coronavirus Misinformation

Major Social Media Platforms To Prevent Coronavirus Misinformation
There has been a surge in the claims about purported "cures" and other unproven theories surrounding the coronavirus on social media and as such, Facebook has said that it will start to take down such bogus claims. This is in light of the spreading coronavirus globally which has sparked an increase in misinformation being spread online.
According to a blog post published Thursday by Kang-Xing Jin, Facebook's head of health, the company will "remove content with false claims or conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organizations and local health authorities that could cause harm to people who believe them."
That includes claims "related to false cures or prevention methods" or "that create confusion about health resources that are available," Jin said.
The mechanism of fact-checking and monitoring on Instagram, another social media platform that is owned by Facebook, is also planned to be strengthened by the company. Starting now, those Instagram users who choose to click on any hashtag related to the coronavirus, will be offered with a "pop-up with credible information", Jin said.
Jin said that the company will allow run free ads by specific selected organizations that help educate people about the virus which will help the company to prioritize legitimate sources of information. The measures will also include boosting those posts that are in line with the guidelines of the health experts so that such posts are at the top of users' Facebook feeds. No organizations that would be included in the measure were named.
However all the new measures were not "fully in place" yet, Jin noted in the blog post.
"It will take some time to roll them out across our platforms and step up our enforcement methods," he wrote. "We're focusing on claims that are designed to discourage treatment or taking appropriate precautions."
This measure taken by the social media company that has of late being criticized severely for allowing misinformation to be spread on the platform, is the latest effort by it to address issues of misinformation – this time about the coronavirus outbreak. The virus has affected more than 9,800 people all across the world while more than 200 have died due it the virus in mainland China. The virus outbreak was declared "a public health emergency of international concern" by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday.
Earlier this week, efforts to give guidance to users about verification of sources of information on coronavirus were also initiated by Twitter and Google.
A special notice with updates from the WHO about coronavirus will pop up whenever users search for information about the virus on its search engine, Google announced on Thursday. Another social media platform owned by Google - YouTube, has said that when people search for clips about the virus, videos from credible sources will be promoted by it. When users search about the virus on the video sharing platform, users will be pointed at some content created and uploaded by specific trusted users which will include the likes of public health experts or news outlets which will appear in the search results or panels which suggest the videos that the viewer can watch next.
Similar measures have also been undertaken by Twitter which announced that users searching for information on coronavirus would be prompted to first visit official channels of information about the illness. For example, the users in the United States will be requested to visit the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which would appear below a bold headline that reads: "Know the facts."

Christopher J. Mitchell

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