Facebook Inc will provide free advertisements to the World Health Organization (WHO) as it seeks to ensure users are not misinformed about the virus, Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said on Tuesday.
"We're focused on making sure everyone can access credible and accurate information. This is critical in any emergency, but it's especially important when there are precautions you can take to reduce the risk of infection. If you search for coronavirus on Facebook, you'll see a pop-up that directs you to the World Health Organization or your local health authority for the latest information. If you're in a country where the WHO has reported person-to-person transmission, you'll also see it in your News Feed," Zuckerberg said.
Facebook is working with national ministries of health and organizations like the WHO, CDC and UNICEF to help them get out timely, accurate information on the coronavirus.
"We're giving the WHO as many free ads as they need for their coronavirus response along with other in-kind support. We'll also give support and millions more in ad credits to other organizations too and we'll be working closely with global health experts to provide additional help if needed," Zuckerberg added.
Other social media platforms have been taking steps to improve their coverage of the virus. Searches on Pinterest for “coronavirus” take users to a curated web page while WHO launched an account on video app TikTok late last week.
Facebook is also focused on stopping hoaxes and harmful misinformation. The company is removing false claims and conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organizations. It is also blocking people from running ads that try to exploit the situation -- for example, claiming that their product can cure the disease.
In addition, researchers are using aggregated and anonymized Facebook data -- including mobility data and population density maps -- to better understand how the virus is spreading.