Facebook has announced another step the company is taking to combat the spread of harmful hoaxes and misinformation about COVID-19 on its platforms. Through Facebook’s Newsfeed, users who interact with harmful COVID-19 claims will receive messages on COVID-19 myths debunked by the WHO including misinformation that has led to imminent physical harm. This step aims to ensure that all Facebook users who may have interacted with harmful information about the virus get the truth from authoritative sources in case they encounter these claims again on Facebook.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Facebook has connected people to accurate information from health experts to keep harmful misinformation about COVID-19 from spreading on its apps. These efforts have seen the company direct over 2 billion people to resources from the WHO and other health authorities through its COVID-19 Information Center and pop-ups on Facebook and Instagram with over 350 million people clicking through to learn more.
The company has also partnered with over 60 third-party fact-checking organisations worldwide, spanning across 50 languages. The program continues to grow to add more partners and languages.
Once a piece of content is rated false by fact-checkers, Facebook reduces its distribution and shows warning labels with more context. During the month of March, Facebook displayed warnings on about 40 million posts, based on around 4,000 articles by its independent fact-checking partners. When users saw those warning labels, 95% of the time they did not go on to view the original content. To date, Facebook has removed hundreds of thousands of pieces of misinformation that could lead to imminent physical harm.
To support the work of its third-party fact-checking partners, Facebook recently announced the first round of recipients of its $1 million grant programme in partnership with the International Fact-Checking Network. Facebook has also given grants to 13 third-party fact-checking organisations around the world to support projects in Italy, Spain, India, the Republic of Congo, and other nations. Additional recipients will be announced in the coming weeks.
Commenting Kojo Boakye, Head of Public Policy, Facebook Africa, said: “To date, we’ve directed over 2 billion people to resources from the WHO and other health authorities through our COVID-19 Information Center and pop-ups on Facebook and Instagram. As this pandemic evolves, we will continue focusing on the most effective ways to keep misinformation about COVID-19 off our apps and ensure people have credible information from health experts globally and locally.”