Facebook may have been pleasantly surprised that a lot of people are coming back to the fold so to speak now that people are staying at home to stop the further spread of COVID-19. While there were some issues a couple of days ago with the mistaken deletion of legit COVID-19 links, they seem to have it back under control, or as much control as the social media giant is capable of. They’re sharing all the efforts they’re doing to keep people “safe and informed”, including banning ads for important health items that people have been hoarding.
For one thing, Facebook launched the Coronavirus Information Center to help users have one place to look for all the important and accurate information about the disease. It’s placed at the top of the news feed so it should be easy for users to access. At least, easier than scrolling and discerning which are fake news and which are legit. Even on Instagram, they will be “connecting people with credible health information”.
As we all know, Facebook can be a cesspool of misinformation as well and so they will be more proactive in “limiting information and harmful content”. This has been a challenge since they’ve also temporarily downsized their working staff and so they had to rely on AI and algorithms, which still isn’t as reliable yet. They’re also banning ads for medical face masks, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and COVID-19 test kits to prevent people from exploiting this situation.
Facebook also has several efforts to support health experts and relief efforts as well as local governments, communities, and businesses. They are matching $20 million in donations received through their platform to support relief efforts. They’re giving free ads for global health organizations and giving data and tools to their partners. They’re also investing $100 million in small businesses, since they are the ones that will be sorely affected with all the social distancing and quarantines being enforced.
There are a lot of economic and social repercussions, not to mention the actual medical problems, that this pandemic is bringing. Efforts from huge companies like Facebook will contribute towards helping, even if it’s “just” information on social media. Real and accurate information is crucial at this point.