Daily Archives: February 25, 2020

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Social Media versus Coronavirus Misinformation

The coronavirus has caused a great deal of fear worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) has already declared it a public health emergency. Most of the over-80,000 cases of Corona worldwide to date have been in China.  However, the virus is spreading and has surfaced in countries around the world.

Many people know about the virus but do not have complete information about its symptoms, causes and means of prevention. One central reason is the misinformation spread by fake posts on social media. Social media companies are starting to respond.  Facebook, for example, has deleted fake posts about the virus.

The Coronavirus challenge for Facebook

Facebook is checking virus-related content posted on its platform.  User reports of “fake news” posts about Corona are an important part of its battle against hoaxes and misinformation.

Coronavirus has also challenged sites like YouTube.  YouTube said it would delete content about the virus that contains conspiracy theories or false claims that have been flagged by local health authorities and global health organizations.

Why Coronavirus fake news is especially harmful

Social media sites have been battling fake news in general for some time, but fake news about the virus can lead to physical harm and even death.  This makes it even more serious.  Therefore, Facebook announced that fake posts related to the virus would violate its ban on misinformation leading to physical harm.

Facebook is not alone in taking steps to prevent health-related misinformation.  TikTok, Twiter, Pinterest have all instituted measures to combat this phenomenon. Twitter reported that it found over 15 million tweets about the coronavirus within a month. However, it did not see any coordinated attempts to spread fake content.