With several new Coronavirus (Covid-19) cases reported in South Africa, Facebook has reinforced its commitment in helping to keep people safe and informed locally.
Photo: File
With several new Coronavirus (Covid-19) cases reported in South Africa, Facebook has reinforced its commitment in helping to keep people safe and informed locally. Photo: File

Facebook steps up efforts in keeping South Africans informed about coronavirus

By Dhivana Rajgopaul Time of article published Mar 16, 2020

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DURBAN - With several new coronavirus (Covid-19) cases reported in South Africa, Facebook has reinforced its commitment to helping people stay safe and informed locally through local partnerships, an updates to its platform. 

This includes:

Supporting health authorities and agencies 

Facebook is partnering with organisations like health agencies and NGOs who are actively using its platforms to share accurate information about the situation, including on Pages. To help bolster and extend these efforts, the company is also providing ad credits to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Ministry of Health in South Africa to enable them to run coronavirus education campaigns on Facebook.

Providing educational pop-ups on top of search results

Photo: Facebook

WhatsApp API with the National Department of Health 

Local Facebook partner, Praekelt,  worked with the National Department of Health to roll out COVID-19 Connect, a WhatsApp-based helpline developed to deliver accurate health information. Visit: sacoronavirus.co.za/ or join the WhatsApp group on 0600 123 456 to receive the latest government updates.

Medical Supply Hoarding/Coronavirus Ad and Commerce Policy Changes 

Facebook's ongoing work to limit the spread of misinformation and harmful content about the virus also applies to advertising. The social network launched a new policy prohibiting ads for products that refer to the coronavirus in ways intended to create a panic or imply that their products guarantee a cure or prevent people from contracting it. Facebook is also temporarily banning advertisements and commerce listings that sell medical face masks

Limiting misinformation and harmful content 

The social network's global network of third-party fact-checkers are continuing their work in reviewing content and debunking false claims that are spreading related to the coronavirus. In South Africa this includes our local partners AFP and Africa Check. Through a partnership with Africa Check the following local languages are supported - Afrikaans, Zulu, Setswana, Sotho, Northern Sotho and Southern Ndebele.

Supporting global health organisations in fundraising 

As people come together on Facebook for this critical relief effort, we’re supporting the UNF/WHO COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund Facebook Fundraiser with $10M in matching donations. We’re also working with the CDC Foundation to launch a Facebook Fundraiser in the coming weeks, and we will also match up to $10M.

Removing harmful health misinformation

Facebook will remove content with false claims or conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organisations and local health authorities that could cause harm to people who believe them. This includes claims designed to discourage treatment or taking appropriate precautions. Facebook will also block or restrict hashtags used to spread misinformation on Instagram and conduct proactive sweeps to find and remove as much of this content as possible.

On Instagram 

Facebook has moved WHO and other authoritative sources to top of Search, so people can easily find the most accurate information. Facebook will also no longer allow people to search for COVID-19 related AR effects, unless they are developed in partnership with a recognised health organisation.

Facebook Groups 

The social network is also focused on connecting people with authoritative sources and reducing the spread of harmful misinformation, including in Groups. Anyone who searches for coronavirus related groups is directed to credible information from health organisations. Facebook has already reduce the distribution of any groups that repeatedly share false news, and are starting to remove coronavirus related groups and pages from the recommendations Facebook will show people.

Creation of the Business Resource Hub 

Supporting businesses being affected - directly or indirectly - by the recent outbreak of COVID-19, the Hub features resources and recommendations to help small businesses stay connected to customers and keep their business on track. It also includes quick and easy access to credible and accurate information about COVID-19 to help small businesses and the communities they serve, stay informed.


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