Facebook plans campaign in India to fight COVID-19 related misinformation


Facebook on Thursday said it will roll out a new campaign in India in the coming weeks to “educate and inform people” about how to detect misinformation related to Covid-19, and encourage users to check the information they receive against an authentic source. The social networking giant has removed over 12 million pieces of “harmful” misinformation on Covid-19 globally from Instagram and its own platform during the pandemic, including falsehoods about approved vaccines.

It also put warning labels on over 167 million posts that were marked as false by third-party fact checkers.

The social media giant, which counts India among its biggest markets, said it is working on connecting people to accurate sources, and tackle misinformation, especially about the COVID-19 pandemic.

To support its efforts to provide tools to make qualified decisions about information users see online, Facebook will be rolling out a new campaign in India over the coming weeks, the US-based social networking platform said in a statement.

The campaign is aimed at educating and informing people about how to detect misinformation related to COVID-19 and encouraging them to check the information they receive against an authentic source such as the MyGov platform.

“We have developed six easy tips to fight COVID-19 misinformation. These tips will show up on Facebook through a series of creative adverts, and link out to a dedicated microsite, “www.fightcovidmisinfo.com/india/,” it added.

Via the campaign, people will be encouraged to get the whole story and not just the headline, look for trusted sources, and share facts and not rumours.

The campaign and the website will be rolled out in English and 9 Indian languages — Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Oriya, Malayalam, Marathi, Kannada, Gujarati and Bengali.

As per data provided by the Indian government earlier this year, India has 53 crore WhatsApp users, 41 crore Facebook users and 21 crore users of Instagram.

Last month, Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms had removed about 100 posts and URLs after the government asked them to take down content spreading fake news around the pandemic.

In its statement on Thursday, Facebook said it has made significant investments to remove accounts and content that violate its Community Standards or Ad Policies as part of its global fight against spread of misinformation.

It is also working on reducing the distribution of misinformation and false news, and informing people by giving them more context on the posts they see, so that “people can decide what to read, trust, and share”.

During the pandemic, more than 12 million pieces of harmful misinformation on COVID-19 were removed globally from Facebook and Instagram.

“Facebook has put warning labels on over 167 million posts marked as false by third-party fact checkers. When people see warning labels, about 95 per cent of the time they do not go on to view the original content,” the US-based company said.

Facebook said it has also initiated a campaign in association with leading doctors in India in a bid to provide accurate and reliable information and resources on COVID-19.

The campaign includes a series of 12 videos where doctors address the most commonly asked questions on COVID-19. The video series – #DoctorKiSuno – will premiere on https://www.facebook.com/FacebookIndia and will cover key topics like COVID-19 in children, diabetes and COVID-19, the mental health impacts of COVID-19 among others.

“Through this COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, we’ll continue working with partners and the community to ensure we’re effectively tackling misinformation.

“We will give them the resources they need to help spot and challenge the content they are seeing online, and to share accurate information with their friends and family over social media,” Facebook said.