Facebook’s COVID-19 Information Center has been visited by More than 2 billion people since it was launched in March by the social media conglomerate.
In an effort to disseminate trustworthy health information on the coronavirus, Facebook introduced its own COVID-19 information centre as a central hub that collects information from credible third-party sources, including the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization.
Speaking at Facebook’s recent APAC Press Day, Facebook vice president APAC Dan Neary said that, since the information centre launched in March, it has been visited by more than 2 billion people.
It comes as part of a string of efforts the social media conglomerate has introduced to combat disinformation, with Facebook having labelled over 50 million pieces of content around the coronavirus as misinformation, Neary said.
In recent days, however, this has seen Facebook amplify its efforts to address what will be another huge challenge: removing false claims about coronavirus vaccines, like the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine currently being rolled out in the United Kingdom, that have been debunked by public health experts on Facebook and Instagram.
“This is another way that we are applying our policy to remove misinformation about the virus that could lead to imminent physical harm,” Facebook said in a statement.
“This could include false claims about the safety, efficacy, ingredients or side effects of the vaccines. For example, we will remove false claims that COVID-19 vaccines contain microchips, or anything else that isn’t on the official vaccine ingredient list.
“We will also remove conspiracy theories about COVID-19 vaccines that we know today are false: like specific populations are being used without their consent to test the vaccine’s safety.”
Facebook said it would regularly update the claims it removes based on guidance from public health authorities as they learn more.
The move comes as, in other news, Facebook prepares to overhaul its algorithms used to detect hate speech.
The social media conglomerate has additionally prohibited exploitative tactics in ads and banned ads for medical face masks, hand sanitiser, disinfecting wipes and COVID-19 test kits.
Moreover, Facebook has collaborated with local governments and emergency health organisations to reach people on Facebook and Messenger, and collaborate using Workplace for free.
Facebook invests millions in healthcare, and the press
In Singapore, Facebook collaborated with the country’s government to create a WhatsApp bot—established to provide daily updates from the Singapore government to share updates and address misinformation. The Singapore government’s official Gov.sg WhatsApp channel now has more than 600,000 opt-in users.
But Facebook has extended its efforts outside of its platform.
Neary revealed the company had committed US$20 million to support health organisations in their COVID-19 relief efforts, and donated US$25 million to support healthcare workers on the frontline.
Recapping the year that was, Neary also revealed the company had extended its efforts toward combatting misinformation to other fields critical to keeping people informed: namely, the press.
Earlier in the year, Facebook made an additional $100 million investment to support the news industry.
This included $25 million in emergency grant funding for local news through the Facebook Journalism Project, and $75 million in additional marketing spend to move money over to news organisations around the world.
However, perhaps the largest donation Facebook has made is through its Small Business Grants Program, which Neary said would provide US$100 million in grants for SMBs, “targeted to help over 30,000 businesses in over 30 countries” struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.
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