How Can The Social Media Stop The "Infodemic" on The Virus?

Published March 26th, 2020 - 02:16 GMT
And Instagram says it is 'working quickly to make this available globally over the coming weeks.'

Social media giants can't stop coronavirus from infecting the globe, but they are working to end misinformation about the virus from spreading on their platforms – and Instagram is the latest newcomer to this fight.

The Facebook-owned app is now removing coronavirus-related content and accounts from recommendations and 'Explore' unless posted by or belonging to credible health organizations.

Users who search for information related to the outbreak will be presented with an educational message connecting them to resources from the World Health Organization and local health ministries.

The move is to stop false claims and conspiracy theories that have been flagged by authorities from causing harm to the public during the pandemic.

Although Instagram and other tech companies have been working tirelessly to provide accurate and up-to-date information about the coronavirus, inaccurate information is spreading like wildfire, so much that the World Health Organization is calling it an 'infodemic.'

When users search in Explore, they see reputable sources and pages from the World Health Organization, United Nations Children's Fund and other official organizations.

And Instagram says it is 'working quickly to make this available globally over the coming weeks.'

'We will also start to downrank content in feed and Stories that has been rated false by third-party-fact checkers,' the photo-sharing platform added.

The move comes a week after Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg held a phone press conference from the comfort of his home Wednesday to announce the firm's new 'Coronavirus Information Center.'

The hub will appear at the top of users' Feeds with authoritative information from organisations such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the CDC.  

'The top priority for us has been making sure people can get access to good trustworthy information about the outbreak from reliable sources,' Zuckerberg said during the call.

'During a pandemic we are seeing hoaxes convincing people who are sick not to get treatment or protect people around them.'

'We've seen one hoax that encourages people if you're sick to drink bleach to cure it. 

'That's terrible, that's going to cause imminent harm.'

The coronavirus information center will include real-time updates from health authorities and global organizations, as well as articles, videos and posts about recommendations such as social distancing and preventing the spread of the virus.

The hub will provide articles and information from celebrities, journalists and scientific articles as well.

Facebook's goal during the pandemic is to remove posts that cause imminent danger and unlike its ability to police political posts, Zuckerberg said 'health information is more black and white' and easier to decipher.

Although working from home at the moment, the firm has a full team of moderators who are souring the site for misleading posts related to the virus- and they have algorithms to help elevate the burden.

The CEO also revisited yesterday's news about a bug in its anti-spam system that was blocking the publication of links to legitimate news stories about the coronavirus.

Facebook users were complaining earlier last week that their attempts to share information and articles about the virus was being blocked by the social media giant.

'Legitimate links were being marked as spam, the issues have been fixed and articles have been reposted,' Zuckerberg explained.

'A lot of people are wondering if it is connected to the shift of our content moderators working from home, it is not.'

'We have a completely separate system on spam.'

'A vast majority, about 98 percent, of spam content is taken down by AI systems.'

'I do think we will make false positives when taking down some content that is no supposed to be taken down.'

The CEO also noted how the tech world has been able to come together during this devastating time.

'I am proud of the tech industry's response overall,' he said.

'They are setting a good example for the rest of the business on how to react responsibly with their work force.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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