Google and other tech giants are joining forces to fight coronavirus misinformation

Google News Brief

The SARS-CoV-2 virus has caused a global pandemic, one that is grinding societies to a halt. To limit community transmission of the virus, health experts recommend that people engage in “social distancing” by staying at home as much as possible and avoiding any public gatherings. If one believes they may have been exposed to the virus, it is recommended for users to self-quarantine to see if they develop any flu-like symptoms. Because the COVID-19 disease caused by the novel coronavirus is still being studied by epidemiologists, that gives room for conspiracy theorists, grifters, and opportunists to take advantage of the chaos, giving rise to a flood of misinformation or outright fake news on the web. To stem this tide, Google and other technology giants are joining forces to combat misinformation.

In a joint statement, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Reddit, and Twitter have declared that they are working closely together to reduce misinformation about COVID-19. Each company will use their respective platforms and self-operated channels to inform users on the actual, verified facts that we know of so far. Reddit, for instance, guides users to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website if they search for “coronavirus” or “COVID-19” in the official app. Google recently updated its Discover service to allow users to report misleading or sensational news. Most people today get information and news through the Internet and social media, the largest of which are owned by these aforementioned companies. Given how important it is to be informed on the virus in order to contain its spread, we believe that such a measure is absolutely necessary.

Misinformation regarding the ongoing pandemic can, and already has, contributed to mass panic, which can have a negative effect on effectively containing the outbreak. Being well-informed is really important right now, so you should always refer to sources backed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other official sources such as your local government agencies and trusted news outlets regarding the outbreak. We’re glad to see major tech companies doing their part to help.

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