While Facebook has sat on the fence when it comes to misleading political ads, the firm has taking a stronger stance when it comes to misinformation surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic.
With the spread of the virus difficult to contain at this stage, so has been the false information regarding the coronavirus, and in particular how people can better safeguard against infection.
In a bid to ensure that the right information is getting out there, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took to his own platform to write a lengthly blog post explaining that the company will run free ads that direct users to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The WHO is the best source of information, reports and updates for the coronavirus, and it has been working ever since the epidemic first began to ensure people had accurate information.
“We’re focused on making sure everyone can access credible and accurate information. This is critical in any emergency, but it’s especially important when there are precautions you can take to reduce the risk of infection,” writes Zuckerberg.
“If you search for coronavirus on Facebook, you’ll see a pop-up that directs you to the World Health Organization or your local health authority for the latest information. If you’re in a country where the WHO has reported person-to-person transmission, you’ll also see it in your News Feed,” he adds.
Facebook also took the step to stop any misleading ads about coronavirus, specifically bogus cures and treatments, last week. The firm has already been affected by COVID-19, having cancelled its annual F8 press conference and instead opting for virtual online and live streamed briefings wherever possible.
Hopefully the steps taken by Facebook will help to ensure that people are only, or at the very least, mostly, seeing accurate coronavirus information on their pages and news feeds moving forward.
“This is a difficult time for a lot of people and I’m thinking of everyone affected by this — the people who are sick or quarantined, their friends and family and of course the healthcare workers who are always on the frontlines of any outbreak. We’ll share more updates soon,” Zuckerberg concluded.