Tech platforms in joint effort to curb virus misinformation

Updated March 18, 2020

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“We are working closely together on COVID-19 response efforts,” says social media giants including Facebook and YouTube. — AFP/File
“We are working closely together on COVID-19 response efforts,” says social media giants including Facebook and YouTube. — AFP/File

WASHINGTON: The large US internet platforms have unveiled a joint effort to root out misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, while Facebook announced a $100 million programme to aid small firms impacted by the crisis.

A joint statement was issued late on Monday by Facebook, Google, Twitter, Microsoft and Reddit along with Google-owned YouTube and Microsoft-owned LinkedIn.

“We are working closely together on COVID-19 response efforts,” the joint statement said.

“We’re helping millions of people stay connected while also jointly combating fraud and misinformation about the virus, elevating authoritative content on our platforms, and sharing critical updates in coordination with government healthcare agencies around the world.

“We invite other companies to join us as we work to keep our communities healthy and safe.” Separately on Tuesday, Facebook announced it was offering $100 million to help small businesses in 30 countries cope with the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

The social networking giant said it will be giving cash grants and ad credits to as many as 30,000 enterprises.

“We’ve listened to small businesses to understand how we can best help them,” chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said on her Facebook page.

“We’ve heard loud and clear that financial support could enable them to keep the lights on and pay people who can’t come to work.”

In a related move, Facebook agreed to offer $1 million to its partners in the International Fact-Checking Network working on the COVID-19 related misinformation with a budget of $1 million.

Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2020