How Facebook is trying to reduce Coronavirus panic on its platform


26 Feb 2020352 Views

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Facebook is aiming to prevent the spread of Coronavirus-related misinformation on its platform, banning ads that promise cures or incite panic.

Facebook is banning ads that promise to cure coronavirus or incite panic around the outbreak in its latest attempt to prevent misinformation.

The tech giant said it now prohibits advertising that creates “a sense of urgency” about Covid-19, such as those that “imply a limited supply, or guarantee a cure or prevention”.

This includes ads with claims such as face masks being 100pc guaranteed to prevent the spread of the virus. The rules also extend to those trying to sell related items on the social network’s Marketplace platform.

Facebook has already been cracking down on posts that promote fake miracle cures for coronavirus, such as false suggestions that drinking bleach is a solution.

“While we allow people to buy and sell masks on Facebook, we are taking a closer look at this group,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

“We recently implemented a policy to prohibit ads that refer to the coronavirus and create a sense of urgency, like implying a limited supply, or guaranteeing a cure or prevention.”

Anyone who searches for coronavirus-related content will be directed to a pop-up that links to a regional or global health organisation with credible information, Facebook said.

Containing the virus

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The development comes as travellers returning from northern Italy were told they may need to self-isolate as part of measures to stop the spread of illness.

Holidaymakers who have been in locked-down regions of Italy – including Lombardy and Veneto – were told they should self-isolate at home for 14 days even if they have no symptoms.

Countries with confirmed cases of coronavirus. Image: PA Graphics

Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised people to call its helpline if they have travelled to China, Hong Kong, Iran, Japan, Singapore, South Korea or the affected regions of Italy within the last 14 days.

The HSE said that people who have been in contact with the coronavirus will be monitored for 14 days and a doctor will speak to them over the phone each day to ensure that they are not experiencing symptoms.

Individuals who may have been in contact with the virus are being asked to stay home from work. Earlier this week, William Fry’s employment team offered advice to employers who may have concerns about the virus.

As cases increase in Italy, the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) has agreed to postpone a Six Nations match scheduled next month in which Ireland was set to play against Italy in Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.

– PA Media, with additional reporting by Kelly Earley