Facebook FB has initiated a program in Italy to track the accuracy of coronavirus information circulated on its WhatsApp messaging platform, per a Reuters report.
The tech giant is working with Facta, an Italy-based fact-checking service to analyze all content being circulated by the app’s users. Users are required to forward the content they come across to Facta for analysis.
Being the epicenter of the outbreak in Europe with 128,948 positive cases and around 15,887 deaths, Italy is bearing the brunt of the pandemic. The local government had ordered a lockdown across the nation that has led to a rise in the usage of WhatsApp.
The service has the potential to reach 2 billion WhatsApp users and help get reliable information to those who need it.
The current program follows the establishment of WhatsApp's Coronavirus Information Hub in partnership with WHO, UNICEF, the United Nations Development Programme and the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) in an effort to make verified information about the pandemic available to WhatsApp users.
Moreover, WhatsApp announced a $1 million grant toward the IFCN last month to support journalism from the CoronaVirusFacts/ DatosCoronaVirus alliance – a project created by the IFCN in January that includes more than 100 fact checkers in 45 countries to fight COVID-19-related fake news and misinformation.
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Other Tech Players Fighting Fake News as Coronavirus Fears Rise
Notably, social media companies are witnessing spike in conspiracies related to coronavirus, including misleading or inaccurate claims, false testing methods and fake cures.
Facebook’s latest feature addition to its platform reflects the company’s continued effort toward countering coronavirus misinformation. Other social media companies are also trying to curb the spread of coronavirus misinformation on their platforms.
On Apr 3, Google announced that it is pumping in $6.5 million into fact checkers and nonprofits to ramp up its fight against coronavirus-related misinformation. Also, the search engine giant will start allowing some of its clients, including hospitals to run related advertisements on its platforms.
Notably, Twitter updated its strategy for monitoring tweets during the outbreak. The micro-blogging site removed more than 1,100 misleading and potentially damaging tweets in March after it announced a new guidance that bars content, which could prove to be harmful. This includes tweets from high-profile figures like the presidents of Brazil and Venezuela.
Last week, Apple AAPL partnered with CDC, the White House Coronavirus Task Force and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to release a new COVID-19 website and COVID-19 app currently available on the App Store in the United States to bring in more awareness about the highly contagious virus.
At a time when fake news about COVID-19 is spreading rapidly, Facebook’s initiative will likely help prevent people from panicking and generate some positivity around its brand name.
Facebook currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
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