Sheryl Sandberg leads fight against COVID-19 misinformation

Inaccuracies about the outbreak can easily go viral on a network with 2.5 billion users

Sheryl Sandberg leads fight against COVID-19 misinformation

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is on a mission to take down “any harmful misinformation” about the novel coronavirus COVID-19 on the world’s most widely used social media platform.

Misinformation about the outbreak has the potential to go viral on a network with 2.5 billion users. But the company will have “all hands on deck” to curb the spread of inaccurate posts on the platform, Sandberg told Bloomberg on Monday.

Politicians and celebrities who publish inaccuracies will not be immune from Facebook’s strict regulation of coronavirus-related content. False claims shared in private Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp groups will also be taken down “as soon as we can find it,” the executive said.

The company earlier vowed to remove content making inaccurate claims and conspiracy theories about coronavirus transmission, dangerous home remedies, and other ‘harmful content’ that have been flagged by health experts.

Apart from policing harmful content, however, Sandberg said Facebook is also coordinating with the World Health Organization to deliver ‘good information’ to the public.

To combat misinformation online, the COO also recently posted a video of herself and fiancé Tom Bernthal demonstrating proper handwashing, in support of WHO’s #SafeHands challenge.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO, retweeted the video and thanked the two for “modeling hand hygiene”.  

A Facebook fundraiser will also match up to US$10m in donations, which will go toward WHO and the United Nations Foundation in their “global efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic”.

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