Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, concern for personal and others’ well being is at an all time high and so people rush to the net for the latest news on the topic. But that has ushered in with itself a much greater rise in fake and false news along with misinformation making rounds on the net. And regular users, being none the wiser, fall for these spurious claims and news from questionable sources. Fake or irrelevant news, while already on the rise and now even more so, can do great harm by bringing down public sentiments, and spreading mass panic. It remains up to various social media platforms to tackle this public menace and reduce its impact, and it seems Facebook has taken this a step further with a recent update! Facebook has introduced a new feature that will show some COVID-19 Misinformation warning before sharing new articles by users.
In a recent global update, Facebook has made efforts to bring down the impact of harmful misinformation by displaying a pop up screen that will offer a wider context to users who are planning to share articles or content related to COVID-19. Apart from specifically stating that the article’s contents relate to COVID19, the other background information displayed related to the article that is being shared will include information such as the source of origin for the article and when it was first shared on Facebook along with a link included to Facebook’s COVID-19 information hub.
This will at least help unsuspecting victims of fake news who may inadvertently share the same in not doing so. In Facebook’s own words in a blog post they said that “The notification will help people understand the recency and source of the content before they share it. It will also direct people to our COVID-19 Information Center to ensure people have access to credible information about COVID-19 from global health authorities.”
There’re other affiliated features as well. There seems to be some exceptions to this notification. If the article comes from some sort of credible source or health authorities such as the WHO and other government health organizations and institutions. Additionally, if the article also turns out to be an old one, one over 90 days, yet another notification warns users of the same stating that “This article is over 3 months old.”
This notification feature update doesn’t, however, restrict users from going ahead and sharing such content that may be factually wrong and misleading. According to Facebook, it only aimed to make users more aware of what they were sharing and what they believe is correct by providing more background information. While it is available for everyone, it remains up to the user if they wish to go ahead and be a part of all the misleading information that is going around.
Apart from this, Facebook had also taken some warning measure to combat COVID-19 related misinformation. In another statement, they claimed to have removed about a whopping seven million posts that consisted of content having fake information and false claims, in just the second quarter of 2020!