Social media networks are taking action to address false information about the coronavirus on their sites.
Facebook, Twitter and TikTok are among the companies that strive to provide links to specific information.
The number of messages containing erroneous information about the spread and suspected remedies for the coronavirus has skyrocketed.
To date, more than 250 people have died from the epidemic and cases have been reported in 22 countries.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the coronavirus a public health emergency.
Most social media networks have rules prohibiting the publication of hateful or defamatory information. But following a brutal reaction against companies such as Facebook and Twitter for allowing the spread of false information during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the networks have started to take action.
False information on social media has led to popular violence in several countries and has also helped to spread unfounded fears about the safety of vaccines.
Social networks are now facing pressure to make sure their platforms don’t panic or cause any harm as authorities try to fight the coronavirus epidemic.
So what are they doing?
Facebook says it will limit the spread of false information about the coronavirus by removing “false allegations or conspiracy theories”.
In a blog article, Facebook said it would use its existing fact checkers to investigate and report the false information. The company also said it would notify people who had shared or were trying to share information reported to be false.
Facebook said it was focusing on “allegations designed to deter treatment”, including articles on bogus treatment.
An article from the Philippines advised Facebook users to “keep your throat moist” and avoid spicy foods to avoid being infected with the coronavirus. This message has been shared more than 16,000 times and has received more than 400 comments.
Instagram – which belongs to Facebook – also blocks certain hashtags linked to the virus.
Facebook-owned messaging site WhatsApp has struggled with fake news in the past.
Last year, it announced measures to prevent users from sending messages to more than five people or groups. It also adds a tag to strongly forwarded messages. In some places, these messages have been associated with popular violence.
Twitter said there have been more than 15 million tweets about the coronavirus in the past four weeks.
He launched a prompt that appears when users search for a coronavirus encouraging them to use official channels – the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control – for information.
When Twitter users search for a coronavirus, a headline with the title “Know the facts” appears
Twitter said it had not seen “coordinated attempts” to disseminate false information but remained vigilant.
TikTok Video Sharing Network has added a link to the WHO website and reminded users to report information they think is harmful.
But to see the additional information, users have the first search for “#coronavirus” and click to expand the information.
The platform belongs to the Chinese firm ByteDance. He has recently been criticized for allowing doctors and nurses to post videos giving medical advice on other health issues.
TikTok has stated that its guidelines prohibit the publication of information that could be harmful.
False information alone does not violate YouTube’s video guidelines.
The video streaming site – which is owned by Google – has invested in ensuring that accurate and authoritative information appears most often in searches.
YouTube removes videos when they contain hate speech, harassment, messages inciting violence or scams, which violate all guidelines in the community.
For coronavirus research, YouTube said it shows previews of text-based news articles as well as a warning that story development can change quickly.
Reddit is a platform made up of community discussion groups. Users can vote up or down comments and links posted by other users. Reddit says this design protects the platform from false information.
However, on Friday, Reddit put a banner at the top of its home page directing users to a discussion thread on issues regarding the coronavirus. It contains authoritative resources and content for those affected by the epidemic.
Reddit has also “quarantined” one of its user communities due to the large amount of false and misleading information posted there. This means that users receive a warning about the type of content on the site when they enter.
Snapchat also said that the structure of its platforms protects it from the spread of false information.
Snapchat messages disappear after 24 hours, preventing them from being shared repeatedly or going viral.
The site has no public news feed on which anyone can post.
This does not mean that individuals cannot share false information with their contacts on Snapchat. But these messages are only likely to be seen by a small number of people.