US/World

Coronavirus Misinformation Is Very Alarming: Social Media Struggles To Address Problem

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international health emergency regarding the spread of the coronavirus. In the U.S., 11 positive cases have been detected so far while 260 people are considered persons under investigation (PUI), as per the CDC’s website. 

While the outbreak has garnered a significant amount of attention online, with an estimated 15 million Tweets, the authenticity of many of the articles being circulated has come into question. 

For example, the story of Chinese people consuming a concoction of bat soup led to the spread of widespread misinformation and alarmed people. Other false stories including the one that said the U.S. or Chinese government surreptitiously planted the virus made the rounds too. Many such stories were published without thorough verification, hence the companies themselves have taken the initiative to remove content with wrong information on social media platforms. 

Facebook

In an effort to curb the dissemination of wrong information, the WHO has partnered with Facebook, which also owns Instagram, to educate people looking for information on both platforms with correct facts. Pop-ups redirect people in the U.S. who search for content on the pandemic to the CDC’s website. International users will be redirected to the WHO website. 

“Major digital organizations have a responsibility to their users — to ensure that they can access facts about vaccines and health. It would be great to see social and search platforms come together to leverage their combined reach,” Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director general, said in a statement on Wednesday.

While the plan seems to be in place, the implementation is still lacking. These pop-ups will be put up in the coming days, a Facebook official said. The company also added it will delete posts with misinformation.

Coronavirus The 2019-nCoV, a new type of coronavirus, was first discovered at a small animal and seafood market in the city of Wuhan in China. Pixabay

Twitter

Twitter has filtered out unnecessary information on #coronavirus by adding the #KnowTheFacts prompt, which will show credible information when users search the site. 

 “As ever, those who engage in these practices will be removed from our service. We do not permit platform manipulation and we encourage people to think before sharing or engaging in deliberate attempts to undermine the public conversation,” a blog post on the website warns.

TikTok

On the app’s  TikTok’s #coronavirus page, an article that says that coronavirus is contagious through the eyes is highlighted on top with a screenshot. TikTok has put up a label telling users to verify facts with credible sources to deal with such content. 

TikTok also removes wrong content. “While we encourage our users to have respectful conversations about the subjects that matter to them, we remove deliberate attempts to misrepresent authoritative sources of news,” a TikTok official said.

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