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Facebook joins coronavirus fight

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Facebook is running free adverts for the World Health Organisation (WHO), which share credible and accurate information on coronavirus (COVID-19).

The deadly COVID-19 virus, which originated in the central city of Wuhan, China, in December, has gripped the world, claiming the lives of over 3 000 people, with a current infection rate of 93 000.

Last month, several tech giants, including Amazon, Microsoft, Samsung, Google and Apple, temporarily closed offices, stores and factories in China, and restricted their employees from non-essential travel to the country.

Now, in a post, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the social media company will give support and “millions more in ad credits” to other organisations too and Facebook will also work closely with global health experts to provide additional help if needed.

He says making sure everyone can access credible and accurate information is critical in any emergency. Furthermore, he says “it’s especially important when there are precautions you can take to reduce the risk of infection.

“If you search for coronavirus on Facebook, you'll see a pop-up that directs you to the World Health Organisation or your local health authority for the latest information. If you're in a country where the WHO has reported person-to-person transmission, you'll also see it in your News Feed.

“We're also focused on stopping hoaxes and harmful misinformation. It's important that everyone has a place to share their experiences and talk about the outbreak, but as our community standards make clear, it's not okay to share something that puts people in danger.”

Zuckerberg notes that Facebook is removing false claims and conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organisations.

“We're also blocking people from running ads that try to exploit the situation – for example, claiming their product can cure the disease.”

Additionally, Zuckerberg says through scientific tools developed by the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation, working with the Gates Foundation, researchers in Cambodia were able to within days sequence the full genome of the virus that causes COVID-19, making it much easier and faster to identify if people have the virus.

“The team created a new public version of the IDSeq tool so scientists everywhere can study the full genome within the broader context of coronavirus sequences uploaded around the world.”

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