Facebook vows to limit and remove misinformation about the Wuhan coronavirus and tell you if something you shared is false

ReutersLogo of Facebook is seen in Davos
  • Facebook said it will try to limit the spread of misinformation about the coronavirus by decreasing the reach of false and misleading posts on Facebook and Instagram.
  • It will also inform users if they have shared misinformation that has been fact-checked to be false or misleading.
  • In a shift from its policies on false or misleading political content, Facebook said it will remove some content if could cause physical harm, like posts encouraging people to drink bleach to cure the coronavirus.
  • The move comes after the World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus a public health emergency.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Facebook said it will try to limit the spread of false and misleading information about the coronavirus on its Facebook and Instagram platforms after the World Health Organisation declared the virus a public-health emergency.

The company will decrease the reach of posts that fact-checkers find to be false or misleading, and will instead “show people accurate information” more prominently, Facebook said in a statement.

Facebook says it will also notify people if they have shared content that is found to be false or misleading.

The move comes after the World Health Organisation declared a public health emergency because of the virus, which has now claimed the lives of over 200 people and infected over 9,700.

While the virus has spread quickly, experts told Business Insider that widespread panic over the virus is overblown, as the virus has a comparatively low mortality rate of about 2% – the SARS outbreak had a rate of about 9.6%.

In a shift from its policy to allow false or misleading political statements to remain on its site, Facebook said it will remove content that “could cause harm to people.” For example, the company said it will focus on removing misinformation that discourages people from seeking treatment or spreads false cures or prevention methods like drinking bleach to cure the virus.

The social network will also push users toward “relevant and up-to-date information” with guidance from the WHO, in messages on the top of Facebook’s News Feed.

When people search for information about the virus on Facebook or click on a related hashtag on Instagram, Facebook said it will show an “educational pop-up with credible information.” The company is also providing free advertising for organisations to run “coronavirus education campaigns” on both Facebook and Instagram.

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