If you ever interacted with dangerous coronavirus claims on Facebook, the company is going to message you with information debunking the falsehoods.
In the coming weeks, “We’re going to start showing messages in News Feed to people who have liked, reacted or commented on harmful misinformation about COVID-19 that we have since removed,” the company said on Thursday.
The “harmful misinformation” concerns falsehoods about COVID-19 that could get you injured or killed. “Examples of misinformation we’ve removed include harmful claims like drinking bleach cures the virus and theories like physical distancing is ineffective in preventing the disease from spreading,” the company said.
In addition, Facebook has been cracking down on outlandish falsehoods that claim 5G cell towers are responsible for creating the virus. In the UK, more than 50 cell towers were vandalized this past weekend with carriers blaming it on the 5G-coronavirus conspiracy theories.
To try and set the record straight, Facebook is going to notify affected users with a link to a World Health Organization website debunking myths concerning COVID-19.
“We want to connect people who may have interacted with harmful misinformation about the virus with the truth from authoritative sources in case they see or hear these claims again off of Facebook,” the company added.
That said, Facebook provided a sample image of the message, and it appears to be more of a subtle nudge than an outright warning about the need to avoid COVID-19 falsehoods. (Facebook may have done this to avoid entrenching the person’s belief in the misinformation.)
So far, Facebook says it’s “removed hundreds of thousands of pieces of misinformation that could lead to imminent physical harm.” For more benign COVID-19 misinformation, the company has been using third-party fact-checkers to review the questionable content, which can result in Facebook reducing the post’s distribution, and placing a warning label with more context.
“During the month of March, we displayed warnings on about 40 million posts related to COVID-19 on Facebook, based on around 4,000 articles by our independent fact-checking partners,” the company added. “When people saw those warning labels, 95 percent of the time they did not go on to view the original content.”
For authoritative, evidence-based information on the virus, Facebook has created a dedicated “COVID-19 Information Center” to help users stay informed about the pandemic.
“To make it easier for people to find accurate information about COVID-19, we recently added a new section to our COVID-19 Information Center called Get the Facts,” the company added. “It includes fact-checked articles from our partners that debunk misinformation about the coronavirus.”