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Tech Giants Boost Efforts to Combat Coronavirus Misinformation

The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has disrupted supply chains and international trade with more than 100 countries closing national borders to curtail the spread of the deadly virus, which has infected more than 2 million globally.

The pandemic has weighed on corporate profit margins and impacted economic growth. Notably, the UN warned that the global economy could shrink up to 1% this year with 22 million people filing for unemployment in the past month in the United States, a reversal from its earlier prediction of 2.5% growth.

Moreover, social media companies are witnessing spike in conspiracies related to coronavirus, including misleading or inaccurate claims, false testing methods and fake cures at an alarming rate.

This has prompted tech giants like Facebook FB, Twitter TWTR, Alphabet’s GOOGL Google, Microsoft MSFT and Apple AAPL to develop tools that are helping people stay connected in a secured way.

At a time when fake news about COVID-19 is spreading faster than the virus itself, involvement of social media behemoths in developing information centers while also combating fraud and misinformation could help prevent people from panicking and generate some positivity around their respective brand names.

Moreover, the tech companies are promoting authoritative content on their platforms and sharing critical updates in coordination with government healthcare agencies around the world.

Facebook’s Ongoing Fight Against Coronavirus Fake News

Facebook recently announced it will inform users if they liked, reacted to or commented on a post with harmful misinformation about the virus that moderators later removed.

Moreover, the Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company collaborated with Italy’s Facta, a fact-checking service to analyze content circulated on WhatsApp, including photos, video and audio. Users can send content to Facta via a WhatsApp message to verify its accuracy. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Furthermore, Facebook announced a $100 million contribution to support journalism as part of its general response to the pandemic. It included a Coronavirus (Covid-19) Information Center with content from the World Health Organization, an effort to scrub the News Feed of dangerous misinformation and ban ads that try to sell bogus cures or gouge people trying to buy medical equipment.

Recently, the social-media giant added a new Get the Facts feature on the COVID-19 information center of its news feed that will include fact-checked articles from partner organizations that debunk misinformation about the coronavirus.

Moreover, WhatsApp has more than 2 billion users worldwide and has been making efforts to stop the spread of fake news related to the pandemic.

The platform announced a $1 million grant for IFCN last month to support journalism from the CoronaVirusFacts/ DatosCoronaVirus alliance — a project created by IFCN in January that includes more than 100 fact checkers in 45 countries to fight COVID-19-related fake news and misinformation.

Facebook is also supporting fact-checking operations with AFP and other media companies, including Reuters and the Associated Press, under which content rated false is downgraded in news feeds so that fewer people see it.

Meanwhile, Facebook-owned Instagram now has health cards that redirect to sources like the World Health Organization or local health authorities.

Facebook, Inc. Price and Consensus

Facebook, Inc. Price and Consensus

Facebook, Inc. price-consensus-chart | Facebook, Inc. Quote

Other Tech Players Fighting Misinformation as Coronavirus Fears Rise

Twitter has removed more than 1,100 misleading and potentially damaging tweets since Mar 18 after it announced a new guidance that bars harmful content. This includes tweets from high-profile figures like the presidents of Brazil and Venezuela.

The Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company has updated its strategy for monitoring tweets during the outbreak, which includes reviewing the rules and considering the ways in which it may need to evolve to account for new account behavior.

Twitter, Inc. Price and Consensus

Twitter, Inc. Price and Consensus

Twitter, Inc. price-consensus-chart | Twitter, Inc. Quote

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s Bing recently launched an interactive map that provides information on the spread of coronavirus. The map contains details about the number of cases per country, divided into the number of currently active cases, recovered cases and fatal cases. U.S. citizens can view state-by-state information.

Notably, the Zacks Rank #3 company’s LinkedIn has published a post containing links to information about finding trustworthy news sources and working remotely. A similar post has been made by Alphabet CEO, Sundar Pichai.

Microsoft Corporation Price and Consensus

Microsoft Corporation Price and Consensus

Microsoft Corporation price-consensus-chart | Microsoft Corporation Quote

Further, Google announced that it is pumping in $6.5 million into fact-checkers and nonprofits to ramp up its fight against coronavirus-related misinformation.

It also launched a website in the United States, which posts data related to coronavirus symptoms, treatment and preventive remedies procured from WHO.

Alphabet Inc. Price and Consensus

Alphabet Inc. Price and Consensus

Alphabet Inc. price-consensus-chart | Alphabet Inc. Quote

Apple partnered with CDC, the White House Coronavirus Task Force and Federal Emergency Management Agency to release a COVID-19 website and a COVID-19 app (currently available on the App Store) in the United States to increase awareness about the highly contagious virus.

Last week, this Zacks Rank #3 company in partnership with Google announced a new set of tools that will allow mobile devices to trade information via Bluetooth connections to alert people when they are in close proximity to someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

Apple Inc. Price and Consensus

Apple Inc. Price and Consensus

Apple Inc. price-consensus-chart | Apple Inc. Quote

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