How Facebook, Apple, Google, and others are dealing with Coronavirus outbreak
Facebook has said that it is actively working on reigning the spread of false and dangerous claims about the Coronavirus outbreak across its platforms
The Coronavirus outbreak, which originated in China's Wuhan city, has quickly turned into a pandemic with cases being reported across Australia, India, the US, France, Germany, Italy and UAE among others. The World Health Organisation has declared the recent outbreak as a public health emergency and it has advised countries to gear up for local outbreaks. At a time when the disease has claimed over 250 lives, governments are leaving no stone unturned to contain the disease and prevent it from spreading any further. Apart from this, tech companies too are taking active measures to safeguard their employees and prevent misinformation from creating confusion in the minds of the netizens.
Here's how tech companies are coping with the Coronavirus outbreak:
Fighting fake news
Fake news is one of the biggest issues plaguing social media platforms. Facebook said that it is working on reigning the spread of false and dangerous claims about the Coronavirus outbreak across its platforms. It is also doing fact-checking with independent third-party partners, notifying users who may have shared inaccurate information and disseminating verified advice. On Instagram, the company is restricting hastags that may be used to spread fake news.
Twitter, on the other hand, is taking down accounts that spread misinformation. The company has permanently suspended the account of market blog Zero Hedge account for violating the company's policy by posting a news showing a genuine Chinese researcher as the man who created "the strain of coronavirus that's currently spreading around the world".
Apart from curbing the spread of misinformation, tech companies are also deploying tools for educating people about the recent Coronavirus update. Google, for instance, has announced an SOS Alert feature in partnership with the WHO. Now, when users search for 'Coronavirus' or related topics on Search, they will see safety tips, information, resources and Twitter updates from WHO on the result page.
In India, the Union Health Ministry has announced a 24x7 helpline number to answer citizens' queries about the recent outbreak. Citizens can call '011-23978046' to get additional information about the disease.
Apart from this, Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering has developed a map that live tracks the spread of the Coronavirus across the globe. You can click here to check the map.
Helping in relief operations
Tech giants are also making donations to help in the relief operations. Google has announced a $250,000 grant from Google.org for the Chinese Red Cross to support Coronavirus relief operations. Microsoft, on the other hand, has also pledged 1 million RMB ($144,000) to the Hubei Red Cross Foundation to help with the relief operations in the country. Separately, Bill and Melinda Gates foundation have donated $10 million for relief operations.
Apart from educating people and helping the relief operations, companies like Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, HP, LG, Razr and others have advised their employees to avoid travelling to China. Apple has shut down all its stores in China till February 9, while Amazon has asked its employees, who have returned or will be returning from an affected Chinese region, to work from home for 14 days and get medical consultation before returning for work.
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