As we increasingly turn to social media to stay in touch as we practise social distancing, social media companies Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Reddit and YouTube are responding to the proliferation of fake information about COVID-19, which is spreading faster than the virus itself (and arguably causing more harm).

In a joint statement, they said: ‘We’re helping millions of people stay connected while also jointly combating fraud and misinformation about the virus, elevating authoritative content on our platforms, and sharing critical updates in co-ordination with government healthcare agencies around the world.’

Here is the latest information since the announcement last week:

Twitter to delete posts which promote fake COVID-19 treatments or deny expert advice

Twitter iconTweets which promote fake treatments for the coronavirus or deny expert guidance will be marked as harmful and removed, the social network site has announced.

Twitter has announced that it will delete any tweets which give bogus information about the novel coronavirus, including unverified claims that incite people to action.

Its aim is to halt the spread of information that, if left unchecked, could place people at a higher risk of contracting the disease - citing this would contravene its own safety rules.

Read the full Twitter article 

Facebook will put vetted coronavirus information at the top of the News Feed

Facebook iconFacebook will put a coronavirus information centre at the top of the News Feed in the United States and other countries around the world.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced that, for millions of users, the very first information they will see at the top of their newsfeed will be verified, factual information from organisations such as WHO and the Centres for Disease Control, in an attempt to counter the misinformation spreading elsewhere.

Read the full Facebook article

WhatsApp: Facebook’s coronavirus problem

Whatsapp iconWhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook (FB), is coming under renewed scrutiny over how it handles misinformation as the coronavirus pandemic rampages across the globe.

Although Facebook has ramped up its measures to tackle false advice spreading across its sites, WhatsApp is not able to take similar actions due to encryption. Whilst vital for privacy and security, the very encryption used to protect users is what’s putting them at risk from fake news.

Read the full Whatsapp article

Reddit: Expert Conversation on Coronavirus

Reddit iconThroughout the coming weeks, communities around Reddit will host AMA sessions with medical professionals, health organisations and authoritative voices on coronavirus and its impact.

Whilst seemingly not yet announcing active measures to remove misinformation on COVID-19, Reddit, like Facebook, is hoping to tackle harmful fake news by pushing verified information. It will host a series of Expert AMAs (‘as me anything’) interviews with trusted industry sources.

Bill Gates, Dr Jonathan Quick, MD, MPH (Author of The End of Epidemics: The Looming Threat to Humanity and How to Stop It) and The Associated Press and John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have been the first to host their AMAs so far.

Read the full Reddit blog post