As COVID-19 transforms the landscape of our daily lives, details about the deadly respiratory disease gets more complex with every passing day, opening the way for misinformation. To combat falsehoods on the subject, Facebook announced on Wednesday it's launching a COVID-19 Information Center at the top of its News Feed for users in the U.S. and Europe initially, with a more extensive rollout to follow in the next few days.
This hub will be the network's main spot for users to "get the latest news and information as well as resources and tips to stay healthy and support their family and community," the company explained.
Get it together — Facebook's information center on the coronavirus comes just a day after people spotted the social network accidentally striking and blocking both legitimate and questional sources of news about the outbreak. The unnecessary and rather alarming streak of removals was apparently caused by a bug in Facebook's anti-spam filter. Since then, some removed posts have been restored to the platform while others await approval. The incident reflected just how unstable Facebook's present ecosystem is for COVID-19 related information, in spite of enthusiastic reassurances to the contrary from CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
In addition to its information center, Facebook reported that it has doubled its communication capacity for WhatsApp users as people quarantine and turn to the internet to keep in touch with their loved ones. It also announced that it is opening up its Workplace Advanced service to emergency groups and federal agencies for free for the next 12 months.
Where will this hub's information come from? — In addition to CDC and WHO resources, Zuckerberg explained during a press call that the hub will offer content "from public health experts" while also containing "visualizations that academics or journalists have put together that can basically show people good information that is going to be encouraging the right behaviors." It sounds positive in theory but let's see how effective it is in practice.