Facebook to directly alert users who engage with COVID-19 misinformation

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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The US-based social media behemoth Facebook is up with a new measure to control the spread of misinformation related to COVID-19 and to alert the users about it.

According to reports, Facebook has planned to roll out a new feature to let people know the details about the misinformation they have removed from their platform. 

Facebook will be sending notifications to users who have liked, shared or commented on any COVID-19 related misinformation that has been taken down for violating the platform’s terms of service. Further, it will connect users with trustworthy sources to get reliable data.

Earlier this year, Facebook had launched a similar concept in the form of a newsfeed post that redirected users who were engaging in misleading information to the page of the World Health Organization (WHO) website which had debunked COVID-19 related myths.

Facebook is now going to reach out with direct notifications which state, “We removed a post you liked that had false, potentially harmful information about COVID-19.” Once the user clicks on it they will be redirected to a page where they can view a thumbnail of the wrong content they may have liked, shared or commented on. 

The thumbnail will have a brief description of the kind of engagement the user has made with the post and a note about why it was removed from the platform. The page will further provide follow-up actions like the option to unfollow the page which initially posted the misleading content or to see facts about COVID-19.

Facebook has redesigned their system of dealing with misleading information especially regarding the pandemic so that the user will have the knowledge about what all posts they have shared, liked or commented on are false.

“The challenge we were facing and the fine balance we’re trying to strike is how do we provide enough information to give the user context we’re talking about without re-exposing them to misinformation,” says Valerio Magliulo, a product manager at Facebook who worked on the new notification system.

The notification that Facebook is going to send is written to be informative and it is also nonjudgmental. The social media site is not aiming to correct the record, instead, it is trying to explain why a given post was removed from the platform.

Even though the researchers feel that it might take a bit too much time to curb COVID-19 related misinformation, this initiation from Facebook is a good way to make people aware of their news consumption habits better.