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Facebook Announces Plan To Remove Posts About Coronavirus 'Conspiracy Theories'

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Facebook posted a press release to its FB News site Thursday which announced the implementation of aggressive new measures aimed at combating “misinformation.”

In the press release, Facebook’s Head of Health Kang-Xing Jin announced “Facebook is supporting their work in several ways, most especially by working to limit the spread of misinformation and harmful content about the virus and connecting people to helpful information.”

The measures, which have been described as “unusually aggressive” by the New York Post, include using Facebook’s network of third-party fact-checking sites to limit the distribution of alleged disinformation.

“Our global network of third-party fact-checkers are continuing their work reviewing content and debunking false claims that are spreading related to the coronavirus,” the post states. “When they rate information as false, we limit its spread on Facebook and Instagram and show people accurate information from these partners. We also send notifications to people who already shared or are trying to share this content to alert them that it’s been fact-checked.”

Kang-Xing Jin writes that Facebook will “also start to remove content with false claims or conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organizations and local health authorities,” adding that such posts already go against Facebook’s guidelines on content that causes physical harm.

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“This includes claims related to false cures or prevention methods — like drinking bleach cures the coronavirus — or claims that create confusion about health resources that are available,” the post reads.

The section on content removal is concluded with the warning, “We will also block or restrict hashtags used to spread misinformation on Instagram, and are conducting proactive sweeps to find and remove as much of this content as we can.”

Due to discrepancies in reports about the origin of the novel coronavirus and the response to the Wuhan epidemic by the Chinese government, it is unclear what posts or opinions will qualify as misinformation by the standards of Facebook’s third-party fact-checkers.

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