Info-tech

Coronavirus: Here’s how tech giants are countering misinformation on COVID-19

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on March 06, 2020 Published on March 06, 2020

Facebook, Google and Twitter logos are seen in this combination photo   -  REUTERS

 

As coronavirus pandemic sweeps the world claiming more than 3,200 lives and infecting around 95,000 people, tech giants including Apple, Google, and Facebook are cracking down on apps related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

American multi conglomerate Apple is not accepting any app which is not affiliated with recognized institutions like governments or hospitals, CNBC reported.

Four independent developers, who were developing apps to show country and continent wise statistics on coronavirus, were rejected by Apple. The developers mentioned that they took information from reliable sources like the World Health Organisation (WHO) to create the dashboard. However, Apple still denied it, added the CNBC report.

They further stated that an Apple employee told one of the developers that an official health organization or government must release anything related to COVID-19.

While another developer got a written response that “apps with information about current medical information need to be submitted by a recognized institution,” as per the CNBC report.

According to a source cited in the CNBC report, Apple is taking extra precautions to prevent the spread of rumours around COVID-19. This seems to be working for Apple as search results show few apps about the outbreak and no obvious spam.

Google

Google Play has also banned apps related to coronavirus, which seemed unreliable. Google already has a policy in place against apps that bank on “natural disaster” or “atrocity” or appears to “profit from a tragic event with no discernible benefit to the victims.”

Search for keywords including “coronavirus” or “COVID-19” fetched no results on Google’s app store in the United States, an intentional move from Google to prevent misinformation.

Google Play also published a website called “Coronavirus: Stay informed” with suggested apps, including software from the CDC, Red Cross, and Twitter, CNBC reported.

Facebook

Facebook declared on Thursday that it would remove political ads posted on its service if they contain misinformation related to the coronavirus, a company spokesman told CNBC.

While Facebook faced heavy criticism over tackling fake information on its platform, the company ensured that it won’t entertain fake information on coronavirus, and will remove such dubious content from the site.

Twitter

Twitter, which has become a hotbed of rumours where one viral tweet claimed that antibacterial hand sanitizers are useless against viruses and can only kill bacteria. It garnered 100,000 retweets. Twitter deleted the tweet on Wednesday

Videos, images, and articles related to coronavirus were miscaptioned and misreported but widely spread on Twitter. Therefore, on Wednesday evening, the company announced policies, banning adverts that “opportunistically use the Covid-19 outbreak to target inappropriate ads,” reported the Guardian.

Amazon

Amazon stated that it had blocked over one million products claiming to cure the deadly virus. Third-party merchants were selling the products on its retail site. Amazon found them misleading and later removed them from the site.

According to Amazon spokesperson Cecilia Fan, Amazon has always required sellers to provide accurate information on product detail pages.

Last month, Amazon began directing customers who use keywords related to coronavirus, to the CDC website, with a message atop -- “Learn more about Coronavirus protective measures,” CNBC reported.

Published on March 06, 2020

A letter from the Editor


Dear Readers,

The coronavirus crisis has changed the world completely in the last few months. All of us have been locked into our homes, economic activity has come to a near standstill. Everyone has been impacted.

Including your favourite business and financial newspaper. Our printing and distribution chains have been severely disrupted across the country, leaving readers without access to newspapers. Newspaper delivery agents have also been unable to service their customers because of multiple restrictions.

In these difficult times, we, at BusinessLine have been working continuously every day so that you are informed about all the developments – whether on the pandemic, on policy responses, or the impact on the world of business and finance. Our team has been working round the clock to keep track of developments so that you – the reader – gets accurate information and actionable insights so that you can protect your jobs, businesses, finances and investments.

We are trying our best to ensure the newspaper reaches your hands every day. We have also ensured that even if your paper is not delivered, you can access BusinessLine in the e-paper format – just as it appears in print. Our website and apps too, are updated every minute, so that you can access the information you want anywhere, anytime.

But all this comes at a heavy cost. As you are aware, the lockdowns have wiped out almost all our entire revenue stream. Sustaining our quality journalism has become extremely challenging. That we have managed so far is thanks to your support. I thank all our subscribers – print and digital – for your support.

I appeal to all or readers to help us navigate these challenging times and help sustain one of the truly independent and credible voices in the world of Indian journalism. Doing so is easy. You can help us enormously simply by subscribing to our digital or e-paper editions. We offer several affordable subscription plans for our website, which includes Portfolio, our investment advisory section that offers rich investment advice from our highly qualified, in-house Research Bureau, the only such team in the Indian newspaper industry.

A little help from you can make a huge difference to the cause of quality journalism!

Support Quality Journalism
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
You have read 1 out of 3 free articles for this week. For full access, please subscribe and get unlimited access to all sections.