The Coronavirus outbreak has taken the world by storm and countries have been scrambling to control the spread of the virus. Unfortunately, the virus isn’t the only thing that’s spreading as social media platforms have seen a surge in content surrounding the outbreak. While the content is mostly harmless, people are seeing the outbreak as an opportunity to spread misinformation and push their agenda. Last month, Facebook along with Twitter and Google vowed to contain the spread of misinformation around the outbreak.
Now, Facebook is going into aggressive mode as the company plans to take down fake news and ads selling random stuff as the cure for Coronavirus outbreak.
We recently implemented a policy to prohibit ads that refer to the coronavirus and create a sense of urgency, like implying a limited supply, or guaranteeing a cure or prevention. We also have policies for surfaces like Marketplace that prohibit similar behaviour.
– Facebook (via Business Insider)
Facebook later clarified their stance to Gizmodo by giving an example of face masks that are 100% guaranteed to prevent the spread of the virus. According to Facebook, this ad is misleading as face marks can’t protect you completely from catching the virus. Facebook is also cracking down on fake news and false claims like drinking bleach will cure the infection.
Facebook will also be banning ads on its Marketplace that “create a sense of urgency” or promise a guaranteed cure for the infection. Facebook has also been pushing face checkers into overtime to ensure the social media platform is free of fake news and misinformation around the outbreak.
Additionally, Facebook told Gizmodo that the company will “block or restrict hashtags used to spread misinformation on Instagram, and are conducting proactive sweeps to find and remove as much of this content as we can.”
While the outbreak has created a global panic, the WHO has said time and again that the change of catching the virus is low. The outbreak has been declared a global health emergency but is not a pandemic. Scientists have also noted that there is no cure for the novel coronavirus at the moment. Hence, any ad you might see online promising a cure is fake and shouldn’t be entertained.