The novel coronavirus is spreading throughout the world, and as more people are confirmed infected, the more many are looking to protect themselves from COVID-19.
But that's not all that's all that's spreading: along with the virus comes misinformation. From the mortality rate to the supposed promise of a vaccine, there's a lot of information circulating that is a little more fiction than fact.
Now, Facebook is trying to do its part to prevent that spread of misinformation.
On Tuesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the popular social network will provide free ad space to the World Health Organization in an effort to educate folks about COVID-19 and to provide accurate and up-to-date information from a reliable source.
In a lengthy statement, Zuzkerberg explained: "We're also focused on stopping hoaxes and harmful misinformation. It's important that everyone has a place to share their experiences and talk about the outbreak, but as our community standards make clear, it's not okay to share something that puts people in danger. So we're removing false claims and conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organizations. We're also blocking people from running ads that try to exploit the situation -- for example, claiming that their product can cure the disease."
This move comes at a delicate time: with the 2020 elections a few months away, Facebook has been pressured to crack down on "fake news" and false ads that plagued the 2016 election. Now, it's getting ahead of the criticism. Facebook previously promised to ban ads promising to cure or prevent the coronavirus, and is now taking the additional step of expanding official channels' outreach. You can already see the effect - if you search "coronavirus" on Facebook right now, you'll find the CDC, WHO, and other, very real medical organizations' pages at the very top.
What can I do about the coronavirus?
To be very clear, while there is a vaccine in the works, there is no known cure for COVID-19. The best protection against the novel coronavirus is the same one that reduces the chances of contracting any virus: thoroughly washing your hands, avoiding touching your face, and getting the flu shot. In the meantime, we recommend looking at the best health insurance companies to make sure that you have the best coverage in the event of an emergency and for to obtain further information on how to prepare for an outbreak.