Facebook gives WHO free ads in battle with coronavirus misinformation

FILE PHOTO: A Facebook logo is displayed on a smartphone in this illustration taken January 6, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc (FB.O) will provide free advertisements to the World Health Organization (WHO) as it seeks to ensure users are not misinformed about the virus, its risks and how to react to it, Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said on Tuesday.

“We’re giving the WHO as many free ads as they need for their coronavirus response along with other in-kind support,” Zuckerberg said bit.ly/3aqdihN in the Facebook post.

Users who search for posts on the virus on Facebook would now see a pop-up that directs them to the WHO or local health authority for the latest information, Zuckerberg said.

He also pledged again that the company would remove false claims and conspiracy theories flagged by leading global health organizations to help combat misinformation about the coronavirus.

Facebook will be working with global health experts and give support and “millions more in ad credits” to other organizations.

In February, the company said it would ban advertisements for products offering any cures or prevention around the coronavirus outbreak, and those that create a sense of urgency around the situation.

The disease, believed to have originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has spread around the world, infecting nearly 93,000 people globally as of March 3.

Other social media platforms have been taking steps to improve their coverage of the virus. Searches on Pinterest for “coronavirus” take users to a curated web page while WHO launched an account on video app TikTok late last week.

Reporting by Bhargav Acharya in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham

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