Facebook adds warning for COVID-19 articles before sharing

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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The latest effort by Facebook to help counter the spread of potentially harmful COVID-19 misinformation includes a new notification screen that will provide more context about an article or some other link, such as when it was first shared and its source.

The aim, says Facebook, is to “help people understand the recency and source of the content before sharing it” and to guide “users to our COVID-19 Information Center to ensure that people have access to credible information from global health authorities about the infection.”

This is an addition to the existing recency alerts of the platform that it introduced in June to help minimize the spread of outdated links that appear regularly in ways that may distort current events.

This new warning screen forms part of an ongoing series of steps that Facebook has been using since March to try to prevent its site from being a forum for dangerous conspiracy theories and other forms of misinformation relating to coronavirus.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the company started placing verified coronavirus information from credible health and medical authorities at the top of its News Feed, as well as the information portal of COVID-19 listed above.

However, in the months since then, Facebook has had to take more aggressive steps to counter the rapid spread of disinformation and conspiracy theories, including banning anti-mask groups and including anti-misinformation warnings in user, news feeds of those who may have engaged in false corona virus-related articles.

The “Plandemic” fake video went viral in May, creating further problems for moderation attempts by Facebook. Only last month, another video from Breitbart News, a trusted Facebook News partner, containing misleading claims about treatments for coronavirus and steps to stop its spread, went viral again. Facebook later said it’d investigate why the video stayed live for such a long time.

“Along those lines, we want to ensure we don’t slow the spread of information from credible health authorities, so content posted by government health authorities and recognized global health organizations, like the World Health Organization, will not have this notification,” the company says which ensures that trusted and helpful links don’t get caught in this update.