Coronavirus Outbreak: Facebook Removes Posts To Curb Spread Of Misinformation

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The coronavirus outbreak is not only creating waves of shock across China but also on a global scale. It has given rise to the anti-China sentiment around the world. As many as 12,000 people in China have been affected by coronavirus, claim local health authorities and more than 130 cases have been reported in 25 other countries and regions.

Facebook Removes Posts With Misinformation About Coronavirus

 

And, hoaxes related to the same are spreading widely online. This is being promoted by conspiracy theorists and exacerbated by a scarcity of information from the central city of China, Wuhan, which has been cordoned off due to the outbreak.

A Fresh Challenge For Social Media!

In the meantime, Facebook took to a blog post to announce that it would remove content related to coronavirus that spread false claims or conspiracy theories that have been flagged by the global health organizations and local health authorities. It adds that such content would violate Facebook's ban on misinformation resulting in physical harm.

Notably, the spread of misinformation about the fast-spreading coronavirus is a fresh challenge for social media networks. And, the move of removing misinformation is quite aggressive. Usually, Facebook being the world's biggest social network limits the distribution of content with health information to its users via restrictions on search results and advertising. Also, it allows the original posts to stay up.

Notably, this is not the first time for Facebook to remove misinformation. Previously, the social network came under fierce scrutiny worldwide for the spread of misinformation regarding Samoa, a measles outbreak that killed dozens last year. But the misinformation related to Samoa were removed from the platform.

Misinformation About Coronavirus

Fact-checking initiative PolitiFact stated that misinformation about coronavirus online includes hoaxes about its spread, sources, and how it should be treated. Also, there seem to be false conspiracies regarding its connection with the Chinese government and biological warfare.

 

Speculations about the virus have spread widely on Chinese social networking platforms but they act fast and remove sensitive content quickly. However, of late, there is an unusual level of public criticism on the way the government is handling the crisis.

Our Take

The decisions to remove misinformation by Facebook in the case of Samoa and coronavirus make us believe that the company is expanding its policy to include misinformation that contributes to the quick spread of illness.

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