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Facebook will run free WHO ads to counter coronavirus misinformation

Mariella Moon
Associate Editor
photoguns via Getty Images

In a status update Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has just posted, he detailed the social network's efforts to ensure you're getting the right information about your area's COVID-19 situation. When you search for "coronavirus" on Facebook, you'll see a pop-up or a card at the top of the search results that directs you to the World Health Organization or a local health authority's website for the latest updates. Facebook is even giving the WHO as many free ads as it needs for its coronavirus response measures and providing the organization the support it needs on the platform.

The company is also taking steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus misinformation and hoaxes. Facebook has long been criticized for allowing disinformation campaigns to spread on its platform, but it's especially important to keep matters related to COVID-19 under control, since it's a health concern that could put people's lives in danger.

To make sure you're only (or mostly) getting correct information, it's deleting false claims and conspiracy theories flagged by global health organizations. In addition, it's blocking ads for products claiming to have the capability to cure the disease, as well as any other advertisement seeking to exploit the situation.

Zuckerberg has also revealed that researchers are already using aggregated and anonymized Facebook data, such as population density maps, to gain a deeper understanding of how the virus is spreading. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative's partnership with the Gates Foundation even gave Cambodian researchers what they needed to sequence the virus' full genome in days. Their work has made it easier and faster to identify if individuals have contracted the virus. The CEO says Facebook is still looking for more ways it can help -- it's particularly looking at how its services can contribute to the "broader efforts to contain the outbreak."