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Facebook and other tech giants unite against fake news in times of Coronavirus

Why is it so important to avoid spreading misinformation in times of pandemic? Technology seems to understand this, now it's up to the users to do the rest.

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The largest U.S. technology companies say they have joined together in a commitment to fight fraud and misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The platform and technology group includes Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Reddit, Twitter, and YouTube.

 "We are working closely on COVID-19's response efforts," the joint statement said. "We are helping millions of people stay connected while jointly combating fraud and misinformation about the virus, elevating authorized content on our platforms and sharing critical updates in coordination with government health agencies around the world. We invite other companies to join us as we work to keep our communities healthy and safe."

It's not clear what the joint effort will entail; not all participating companies initially said exactly what they were committed to, or how this might affect existing policies of moderation. But Coronavirus-related misinformation has been running rampant on Internet platforms since the outbreak began last December in China. 

Platforms have been more proactive than usual in removing misleading information by criminalizing fraud and other electronic abuses, such as price gouging and fake coronavirus cures, but the virus on the Internet has shown unprecedented virality in its complexity and scope.

According to the Washington Post, representatives from Silicon Valley met with the White House to discuss measures they could take as an industry to combat misinformation about the public health crisis. Representatives from companies such as Facebook, IBM, Microsoft, Twitter, and Cisco spoke with the administration, but not all signed the joint statement.

 Last week, the White House was forced to dispel the rumor circulating in social media that President Donald Trump was considering a national shutdown to stop the spread of COVID-19. Other false rumors have included a bogus list of medical advice supposedly coming from Stanford University to a constant stream of jokes and fake coronavirus cures spreading through Amazon, Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, and other platforms.

 

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