Facebook to Fight Coronavirus Misinformation With Direct Notifications

By Lore Apostol / December 16, 2020

Facebook is taking a more direct approach to sack misinformation on its platform when it comes to the Coronavirus pandemic, even though it probably came a little late. The company decided to change the way it interacts with users, and it will send notifications to people who came in contact with false information regarding COVID-19 in content that is now removed from the social media platform.

Moreover, users who get these notifications will also be directed to trustworthy sources to set the record straight. However, experts believe that maybe it is too late to stop the wave of misinformation related to the pandemic.

This is not exactly a new standpoint since there was also an attempt to stop the spread of fake information in April. Then, Facebook provided people who interacted with misinformation with a post in their newsfeed, directing them to the World Health Organization's (WHO) website for accurate information and debunked myths. 

The company saw a flaw in the fact that, since there was no clear connection, people didn’t really understand why the posts in their feed pointing to the WHO website were deployed. What is new compared to the April concept is that Facebook includes more details to help users see what exact information they came in contact with that was false.

The notification lets users know that the platform "removed a post you liked that had false, potentially harmful information about COVID-19," leading to a page where there is a thumbnail image of the problematic content, and the user is informed whether he liked, shared, or commented on the post and why it was removed. In its usual style when it comes to problematic content, Facebook offers follow-up options, like links to accurate information about COVID-19 or unsubscribing from whoever posted the fake data.

This change aims to show users why those specific posts violated Facebook's Terms and Conditions - so its intent is to be informative and not judgemental. It's a fine line the company has to deal with when it comes to its users' safety and posts that present potentially harmful information.

While set on this path, Facebook also banned anti-vaccination ads and promised to remove fake information regarding the Coronavirus vaccines that contradict health experts' public statements. Their actions also include removing groups that openly support conspiracy theories and the largest anti-vaccination groups on Facebook.

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