Facebook gives WHO unlimited ad space to counter coronavirus misinformation, hoaxes
Facebook is giving the World Health Organisation (WHO) unlimited free ad space on its platform in a bid to help spread awareness about the coronavirus outbreak. Even as the virus COVID-19 has spread in many countries, the social networking platforms are grappling to counter conspiracy theories, misinformation and rumours around the outbreak. Apart from WHO, Facebook is giving similar "ad credits" to more organizations and working with international bodies like UNICEF.
"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," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post.
"We're also focused on stopping hoaxes and harmful misinformation. It's important that everyone has a place to share their experiences and talk about the outbreak, but as our community standards make clear, it's not okay to share something that puts people in danger. So we're removing false claims and conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organizations. We're also blocking people from running ads that try to exploit the situation -- for example, claiming that their product can cure the disease," he added.
Zuckerberg further said that the social networking company is looking at ways to help people can use Facebook services to help contain the outbreak.
"Researchers are already using aggregated and anonymized Facebook data -- including mobility data and population density maps -- to better understand how the virus is spreading. Scientific tools developed by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative can help with this too. Through a partnership between our philanthropy and the Gates Foundation, researchers in Cambodia were able to sequence the full genome of the virus that causes COVID-19 in days, making it much easier and faster for them to identify if people had the virus. The team created a new public version of the IDSeq tool so scientists everywhere can study the full genome within the broader context of coronavirus sequences uploaded around the world," explained.
Facebook is not alone in extending its services for free in response to what WHO describes as the "global pandemic." Google CEO Sundar Pichai earlier this week announced the company will give free access to an advanced version of its Hangouts Meet video-conferencing capabilities to all GSuite users. Microsoft is also offering a free six-month trial of premium version of Microsoft Teams to users around the world.