Facebook intensifies effort to tackle misinformation on Coronavirus

Facebook intensifies effort to tackle misinformation on Coronavirus

Facebook on Monday says it has intensified effort to tackle misinformation on Coronavirus in Nigeria.

Head of Public Policy for Anglophone West Africa, Adaora Ikenze, in a statement said that with global number rising on the spread of Covid-19, a number of countries across Africa had reported cases of the virus.

Ikenze said that Facebook in a bid to keep people safe and informed globally, had made local partnerships and updates to its platform.

“Facebook continues to partner with organisations like health agencies and NGOs who are actively using its platforms to share accurate information about the situation.

“To help bolster and extend these efforts, the company is also providing ad credits to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to enable them run coronavirus education campaigns on Facebook in Nigeria.

“We are equally supporting global health organisations in fund raising. The company is supporting the UNF/WHO COVID-19 Solidarity Response with 10 million dollars in matching donations.

“We are also working with the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention Foundation to launch a Facebook Fundraiser soon and we will also match up to 10 million dollars,’’ she said.

Ikenze noted that there was ongoing work to limit the spread of misinformation and harmful content about the virus also applied to advertising.

She said that Facebook launched a new policy prohibiting ads for products that refered to the coronavirus in ways that intended to create a panic or imply that their products guarantee a cure or prevent people from contracting it.

“Adverts which include claims related to false cures or prevention methods; like drinking bleach to cure coronavirus or claims that create confusion about health resources that are available would be removed.

“We are also temporarily banning advertisements and commerce listings that sell medical face masks,’’ Ikenze said.

She also said that to limit misinformation, their global network of third-party fact-checkers would intensify efforts to review content and debunk false claims that were related to the spreading of coronavirus.

Ikenze noted that they would also block or restrict hashtags used to spread misinformation on Instagram.

“On Instagram, we have moved WHO and other authoritative sources to top of search, so that people can easily find the most accurate information.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that AR effects is an amazing augmented reality app for your smartphone camera that lets you invent fantastical worlds and then take photos, videos and selfies to share with friends.

“We will also no longer allow people to search for COVID-19 related AR effects, unless they are developed in partnership with a recognised health organisation,’’ she said.

Ikenze said Facebook would also be creating a business resource hub to support businesses being affected – directly or indirectly by the recent outbreak of COVID-19.

She noted that the hub features resources and recommendations would help small businesses stay connected to customers and keep their work on track.

Ikenze said that they were also working with NCDC to develop a Coronavirus hotline utilising the WhatsApp Business API.

According to her, the service will provide people with official health information about the developing coronavirus situation.

“We are committed to partnering with governments, technology companies and civil societies to respond to the immense challenges presented at this time.

“This is an ever-evolving situation, where we will continue to support the relevant bodies, both locally and globally.

“We also encourage all users to check the facts via official public health agencies before sharing messages that have been forwarded to them and to engage directly with trusted and official sources for important information,’’ Ikenze said. (NAN)

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