Social media giants move against misinformation on novel coronavirus outbreak

Source:Xinhua Published: 2020/2/4 11:03:29

Twitter Photo: VCG

Since the outbreak of novel coronavirus, waves of rumors have surged on social media to fan fear, misunderstanding and hatred. World major social media companies have vowed to take actions to contain the viral spread of misinformation.

Twitter said on Wednesday that the company has taken proactive actions to ensure trends, search and other common services are protected from manipulation and malicious behaviors.

"We've launched a new dedicated search prompt to ensure that when you come to the service for information about the #coronavirus, you're met with credible, authoritative information first," Twitter said in a statement.

If searching for coronavirus on Twitter, a note and link will appear on the search page, providing readers with the official information of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In an online announcement made on Thursday, U.S. tech giant Facebook Inc. said that it will limit misinformation about novel coronavirus on Facebook and Instagram.

Users will be provided with correct and accurate content about the virus from international health agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO), said the company.

Facebook is working with third-party fact-checkers to review content and debunk false claims related to the virus.

"We will also start to 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," Facebook said.

It is also coordinating with health organizations and researchers worldwide to offer its users accurate information about the current situation, including guidance from the WHO.

Google made a similar move on the same day, as its communications and public affairs team announced the launch of an SOS alert note in cooperation with the WHO in order to make resources about the virus easily accessible.

"When people search for related info on Google, they'll find the alert atop results page with direct access to safety tips, info, resources & Twitter updates from WHO," the team tweeted.

As a social media platform built around short videos, TikTok has appended a label warning users to "verify facts using trusted sources, including the WHO" when they search for terms related to the virus.

TikTok also added a link to the WHO's website and a reminder to users to report information they think might be harmful.

The company also said it would "remove deliberate attempts to misrepresent authoritative sources of news," according to the Forbes.

The public has also been trying to push back against false reports on social media platforms in their own ways. Some doctors, scientists and internet celebrities are using their expertise and influence to explain to the public about the basic facts of the disease and provide them with practical protective measures.

Mikhail Varshavski, better known as Doctor Mike on social media platforms, published on YouTube a video titled The Truth About The Coronavirus on Jan. 30 which has grabbed more than 4.7 million views.

In the video, the Russian-American internet celebrity, also a family medicine doctor living in the New York City, urged his followers not to panic and to treat viral content on the outbreak with caution.

Another video published on Youtube science channel AsapScience on coronavirus was viewed for more than 4.2 million times, urging people to "listen to and trust public health professionals."

"We need to not overreact and not use this as an excuse to be racist," said Gregory Brown in the video, who is one of the creators and hosts of the channel. His remarks were made as discriminatory comments and actions against overseas Chinese are emerging both online and in real life.


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