How tech giants warn users of fake news about COVID-19 vaccines

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With the pandemic still holding much of the world in its grip, many people have turned to social media and Google for medical advice about COVID-19 vaccines. Sure, it’s convenient. But the question is: are they all legit?

In line with this, the Department of Health (DOH) launched the “Check the FAQs” campaign today, April 7. Together with Facebook, Google, TikTok, and Twitter, the project aims to provide vaccine literacy and limit misinformation among Filipinos.

“As COVID-19 vaccination becomes top priority across the globe, we must also race to fight disinformation and misinformation surrounding COVID-19 vaccines and the pandemic. Spreading the right information can save lives,” said Beverly Lorraine Ho, DOH Director of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

“With the campaign, we hope to urge every Filipino to always verify any information regarding the vaccines they may come across,” she added.

Facebook, Google, TikTok, and Twitter have all been preventing the spread of fake news about COVID-19 on their own platforms. Facebook users are informed if they have liked, reacted, or commented on harmful misinformation about COVID-19 through messages that would appear on their news feed. “These messages will connect people to COVID-19 myths debunked by the World Health Organization, including ones we’ve removed from our platform for leading to imminent physical harm,” Facebook wrote in a blog post on April 16.

Photo: Facebook

In addition, Facebook has been taking action against accounts that “break our COVID-19 and vaccine rules” by “reducing their distribution or removing them for our platform,” said Facebook Philippines Head of Public Policy Clare Amador. And with misinformation always evolving, they continue using “research, teams, and technologies to tackle it in the most comprehensive and effective way possible.”

Google, for their part, has been “taking down harmful and misleading content across our products, raising authoritative information on Search and YouTube, providing ad grants, and supporting quality news reporting on vaccines,” said country director Bernadette Nacario.

She added, “Globally, more than 700,000 videos related to dangerous or false COVID-19 information have been removed.”

Since February this year, TikTok users are prevented from sharing fake news using warning labels on videos that potentially contain false data. If the user still tries to share the video, a message will pop out, saying that the content is “not verified.”

Photo: TikTok

“We’ve collaborated with fact-checking partners to determine whether the content shared on the platform is false,” said Kristoffer Rada, TikTok Philippines Head for Public Policy. “We remove misinformation that is violative of our Community Guidelines and could cause harm to public’s health.”

Same as TikTok, Twitter has been notifying its users of fake news about COVID-19 by applying “labels to Tweets that may contain misleading information,” said Monrawee Ampolpittayanant, Twitter Southeast Asia Head of Public Policy. This was launched in addition to their “continued efforts” to completely remove faulty in their site.

Photo: Twitter

Check the FAQs about COVID-19 and vaccination by visiting doh.gov.ph.

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