The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced a pandemic in connection with the COVID-19 virus. The coronavirus has reached over 100 countries around the world and has infected over 170,000 people. Information on the progression of the disease and speculation around this is spreading and from this a lot of fake news is emerging. People seeking advice from the Internet are met with numerous posts informing them how to handle the virus and what they should be doing to protect themselves. So where is credible for info? How is the industry dealing with all the noise surrounding the virus?
Trying to rise to the challenge
Google, being the most popular search engine in the world means they have a lot of responsibility in the age of pandemics. Users will search questions around how to treat or prevent coronavirus such as, what are the symptoms? How to wash your hands correctly?
It is then vital users are able to quickly find a reliable and verified source of information. Google has also changed the organisation of the search results list, giving users a help and information section, which directs them to WHO and depending on location, the website of their local health organisations, such as the NHS for the UK.
Google Ads has also blocked ads which are capitalising on the pandemic in order to drive sales. Google has already reported that tens of thousands of ads have already been blocked since the beginning of the epidemic in China.
A community facing a pandemic.
With the rise in popularity of search term ‘fake news’ since 2017, Facebook has taken measures to shut this down where possible. It’s intentions is to block both false pandemic content and information about false treatments of the virus. Facebook has also announced that it will publish ads prepared by WHO for free, containing verified information on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instagram has also announced the fight against fake news and is looking to block hashtags leading to the spread of misinformation. YouTube is also looking to redesign it’s landing page, to direct users to WHO channels.
So, it is important not to be carried away by the current media avalanche of fear and uncertainty. Check credible sources of information, and be aware of the messages we are given.