Social media techs issue joint statement to flag misinformation on COVID-19

05:39 PM | 19 Mar, 2020
Social media techs issue joint statement to flag misinformation on COVID-19

ISLAMABAD - Major social media companies including Google, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, in an unprecedented move, has issued a joint statement to flag the potential for misinformation about COVID-19 on their platforms.

“We invite other companies to join us as we work to keep our communities healthy and safe,” the joint statement read shared by the social media companies.

The tech companies aren’t just battling the spread of questionable posts by the public, but also have to contend with misleading information in several of President Donald Trump’s public statements on COVID-19, including his tweets and Facebook posts.

Facebook’s efforts to fight disinformation about COVID-19 have included information cards on Instagram and Facebook, that redirect to sources like the World Health Organization or local health authorities.

The Twitter spokesperson shared the company’s update to its strategy for monitoring tweets during the outbreak, including “reviewing the Twitter rules in the context of COVID-19 and considering the ways in which they may need to evolve to account for new account behaviour.”

Reddit pointed out that it may “apply a quarantine to communities that contain hoax or misinformation content,” removing them from search results, warning users and requiring explicit opt-in to see the content.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai published two blog posts on the topic this month, including one on March 15 that had information about Verily, the screening site for California initially misrepresented by Trump in an address as a broader initiative.

Last week, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Michael Kratsios held a remote meeting with representatives from major tech companies on how to coordinate various efforts related to COVID-19, including fighting disinformation. The Washington Post and Politico reported that the White House had asked Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, IBM, Cisco and Twitter for help.

The World Health Organization’s director-general has also termed disinformation as dangerous as COVID-19. “We’re not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an infodemic. Fake news spreads faster and more easily than this virus, and is just as dangerous,” WHO official Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during an address at the Munich Security Conference on Feb. 15, almost a month before the WHO officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic.