Facebook Put Warnings on 40 Million Misleading Covid-19 Posts
Facebook Inc. signage is displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone in an arranged photograph taken in the Brooklyn Borough of New York, U.S. (Photographer: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg)

Facebook Put Warnings on 40 Million Misleading Covid-19 Posts

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(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. added warnings to 40 million pieces of misinformation about the coronavirus on its main social network in March, part of an effort to stem the spread of bad advice and misleading articles.

Hundreds of thousands of posts Facebook deemed harmful were removed entirely, according to a blog post on Thursday by Guy Rosen, the company’s vice president for integrity. In the next few weeks, users who liked, commented or reacted to misleading posts that were later taken down will be shown messages in their news feeds linking to factual information about Covid-19, the company said.

In March, Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said stopping the spread of dangerous claims, like one saying that drinking bleach could cure coronavirus, would be a top priority, even as thousands of the company’s content moderators have been unable to do their jobs from home. Full-time employees have been assisting in the effort in the meantime. Facebook appended the warning labels on posts after 4,000 news stories were fact-checked by third-party reviewers. The company added eight new fact reviewers as partners since March, including Reuters in the U.K. and MyGoPen in Taiwan.

Facebook Put Warnings on 40 Million Misleading Covid-19 Posts

Facebook has been criticized in the past for not releasing detailed data on its fact-checking operations. The statistics represent rare insight into the work, yet it’s unclear how big an impact the company is making overall -- users post 100 billion pieces of content a day across all of its properties, which include Instagram and WhatsApp. The flagship social network alone has 2.5 billion monthly users.

Still, when Facebook does find misinformation, its efforts have an impact, Rosen wrote in the post. When people saw the company’s warning labels, 95% of the time they opted not to view whatever article or video was posted.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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