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Facebook to Notify Users Who Responded to COVID-19 Misinformation

By James Brumley – Apr 16, 2020 at 12:44PM

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The social media platform hopes to quell the impact of misleading coronavirus content.

The COVID-19 pandemic's fallout is making it tough to separate truth from fiction. Social networking giant Facebook (META -0.54%) 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."

Wooden cubes with fake and fact spelled out on them.

Image source: Getty Images.

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.

Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. James Brumley has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Facebook. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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