Facebook recently stated that it will begin removing “misinformation” relating to the coronavirus after the WHO declared the outbreak in China a global health emergency. The misinformation will be identified not only by “leading global health organizations” but also by China’s “local health authorities.”
Reuters reports that Facebook announced this week that it will be removing misinformation on the platform relating to the fast-moving coronavirus which has spread throughout mainland China, originating in the Wuhan area. The decision to remove misinformation was made after the WHO declared the virus outbreak a global health emergency.
Facebook stated in a blog post that it would be removing content relating to the coronavirus “with false claims or conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organizations and local health authorities.” The firm stated that such content would violate the site’s ban on misinformation and could lead to “physical harm.”
Facebook has taken a surprisingly aggressive stance on this issue, generally, the site limits the spread of misinformation by restricting search results and advertising but makes original posts on the platform available for viewing. This approach has angered many who believe that the site is not doing enough stop “fake news”, Facebook’s refusal to fact check political ads has been a major point of contention ahead of the 2020 Presidential elections.
Facebook has previously removed medical information including anti-vaccine posts in Samoa where a measles outbreak killed dozens late last year. Facebook determined at the time that the situation was so severe that anti-vaccine messaging being posted on the social media platform constituted a risk of physical harm. Facebook called the move an “extreme action” at the time.
Facebook has previously removed misinformation about polio vaccines in Pakistan, according to a spokesperson, that situation involved the imminent risk of violence against the health workers carrying out the immunization campaigns.