Tech Companies Fight COVID-19 Misinformation
After a few years with some of the biggest tech companies regularly in the news, it’s positive to read about the efforts of Facebook, Google, Twitter, and others undertaking protocols to support the work of the World Health Organization (WHO), the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and medical professionals to disseminate accurate information about COVID-19 and stop harmful misinformation.
A meeting took place on Thursday, February 13, 2020, at Facebook HQ with the WHO and attendees from the aforementioned companies, Verizon, and Salesforce. The discussion centered on how to cut the spread of misinformation. Opportunistic bad actors see money-making opportunities and have been running campaigns to market fake cures or other forms of misinformation.
Referring to the efforts from tech companies, the WHO’s Andy Pattison said that the “tone is changing” as these companies increase efforts to combat the coronavirus misinformation. Pattison offered to help the companies fact check the information posted rather than relying on third parties.
“The purpose of that was to plant seeds of ideas, and it worked well,” said Pattison. “I encouraged collaboration and innovation. During a crisis, it’s a good time for that.”
Facebook and Amazon have offered to share ad space or provide volunteers to help quell the spread of misinformation, added Pattison.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the companies in attendance agreed to work on collaborative tools, better content and a call center where people can ask questions or get advice.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently published a post on his Facebook page detailing some of the efforts being undertaken by Facebook and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the philanthropic fund established by Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan.
Users searching for coronavirus on Facebook are directed to information from the WHO or local health authorities. The company is working with the WHO, CDC, and UNICEF to distribute timely and accurate information. Facebook has offered the WHO as many free ads as they need for their coronavirus response. Zuckerberg also wrote that Facebook is ‘removing false claims and conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organizations.’
Through a partnership between the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative 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 have the virus.
It’s important to see technology leaders like Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates making humanitarian support a priority.
Putting Health First
As an industry, we are seeing the effects of this national emergency. Companies large and small are making the health of the employees and their families a priority. This has resulted in the cancellation of industry gatherings such as MWC, GDC, E3, SXSW, and MAU. YouAppi is taking every precaution necessary to ensure the health and safety of our employees as well as the global community by implementing mandatory travel restrictions and supporting remote work policies to continue to drive business from a safe distance.
The situation around novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to evolve and the industry is driving business and growth through technologies such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, WhatsApp, and Slack. Productivity has not slowed down as access to face to face interaction at a distance continues to grow.
The ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 has impacted countries differently. Given the growing concerns and potential rapid advancement of the virus, it is important to reduce your personal risk. We all need to do our part. Here are some tips to stay as healthy as possible during this time and reduce your risk.
- Be vigilant about disinfecting your workspace and frequently touched surfaces in the office such as meeting rooms, common tables, desks, chairs, and kitchens.
- All remote and home offices should have the following supplies on-hand:
- Disinfectant wipes
- Paper towels
- Hand soap
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Minimize face to face meetings and opt for video Zoom or Google Hangout calls for conferencing.
- Do not interact with others if you have any symptoms. If you are sick with flu symptoms, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.) Learn more here.
- Wash your hands regularly by lathering with soap and water for at least 30 seconds- this is the best way to avoid the spread of germs.
- Sneeze into tissues or your elbow to minimize the spread of germs. Always wash your hands with soap and water after you sneeze, or use hand-sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your face, particularly eyes, nose, and mouth, with your hands.
- Wipe down and disinfect your desk, phones, laptops regularly.
- Use an ‘elbow-bump’ instead of a handshake.
- Mitigate your risk of exposure by avoiding crowds.
We hope these precautionary measures help during this unique time of uncertainty. We are grateful for our mobile industry and look forward to seeing each and every one of you again soon.