The COVID-19 pandemic's fallout is making it tough to separate truth from fiction. Social networking giant Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) hopes to change that. On Thursday, the company announced anyone who has "liked" or commented on a coronavirus story in their Facebook news feed that was later found to be misleading will be notified. That notice will also redirect those individuals to credible sources of information regarding COVID-19.
The necessity of the effort is clear. CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his personal Facebook page "We've taken down hundreds of thousands of pieces of misinformation related to Covid-19, including theories like drinking bleach cures the virus or that physical distancing is ineffective at preventing the disease from spreading." He added "For other misinformation, once it is rated false by fact-checkers, we reduce its distribution, apply warning labels with more context and find duplicates." Zuckerberg noted that 95% of the time those flagged articles were not read by Facebook's members.
As for timing, the update only said "People will start seeing these messages in the coming weeks."
That's not the only measure the company has taken to prevent people from exploiting the coronavirus contagion. In March, Facebook banned ads for hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, medical face masks, and COVID-19 testing kits. The move is intended to ensure equitable access to these items to those who may need them most.
Facebook has proven to be an important communication hub while millions of people across the globe are stuck at home. In late March, the social networking platform reported that messaging was up 50% in regions that were hit the hardest by COVID-19. Meanwhile, voice and video calls more than doubled.