Facebook’s measures to tackle misinformation on Coronavirus in East Africa

Facebook's measures to tackle misinformation on Coronavirus in East Africa
FILE/VOA - A smartphone user displays a Facebook newsfeed in a May 2, 2013, photo illustration.

Facebook has embarked on various local partnerships, and updates to its platform to help nations in the East Africa region deal with misinformation on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

So far cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Rwanda.

Facebook’s Head of Public Policy for East and Horn of Africa, Mercy Ndegwa says they are committed in helping to keep people safe and informed globally, and locally in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of the measures employed include supporting organizations like health agencies and NGOs who are actively using its platforms to share accurate information about the situation, including on Pages.

To help bolster and extend these efforts, Facebook is also providing ad credits to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“As people come together on Facebook for this critical relief effort, we’re supporting the UNF/WHO COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund Facebook Fundraiser with $10 million in matching donations. We’re also working with the CDC Foundation to launch a Facebook Fundraiser in the coming weeks, and we will also match up to $10 million,” says Ms. Ndegwa in a statement.

She adds that Facebook is also providing educational pop-ups on top of search results and limiting misinformation and harmful content through a global network of third-party fact-checkers who continuously review content and debunk false claims that are spreading related to the coronavirus.

The social networking platform will also start to remove content with false claims or conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organizations and local health authorities that could cause harm to people who believe them.

” This includes claims related to false cures or prevention methods — like drinking bleach cures the coronavirus — or claims that create confusion about health resources that are available. We will also 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,” adds Ms. Ndegwa.

On Instagram, Facebook has moved WHO and other authoritative sources to top of Search, so that people can easily find the most accurate information.

“We’ll also no longer allow people to search for COVID-19 related AR effects, unless they are developed in partnership with a recognized health organization,” she adds.

When it comes to Facebook Groups, Ms. Ndegwa says anyone who searches for Coronavirus related groups is directed to credible information from health organizations.

She further notes that they have reduced the distribution of any groups that repeatedly share false news, and they are also starting to remove coronavirus related groups and pages from the recommendations we show people.

Lastly, Facebook has created a Business Resource Hub featuring resources and recommendations to help small businesses stay connected to customers and keep their business on track. It also includes quick and easy access to credible and accurate information about COVID-19 to help small businesses and the communities they serve, stay informed.

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