Facebook has announced it is launching a ‘coronavirus information centre’ at the top of the news feeds of its desktop and mobile app. It rolls out from today in the US, UK, Italy, France, Germany and Spain with more countries to follow.
It’s a positive addition from the social media giant given social media is the very place that panic and misinformation can spread easily, though people should still be urged to contact official health authorities if unsure of information. We hope it is rolled out to every nation if it is to be a constant fixture on the service.
In a blog post, Facebook described the centre as “a central place for people to get the latest news and information as well as resources and tips to stay healthy and support their family and community.”
The information hub will contain real-time updates from the World Health Organisation alongside instructional videos on relevant topics such as self-isolation and social distancing. You can also ‘follow’ the information centre in order to receive updates from health authorities.
The launch of this hopefully helpful tool comes days after Facebook admitted a software bug was wrongly labelling legitimate news articles about the coronavirus as spam. VP of Integrity at Facebook (yes, that’s a real job title) Guy Rosen tweeted to say that the bug had been fixed, but it’s worrying that articles on important health guidelines from reputable sources were being blocked. It shows that we simply can’t rely on or trust information seen on Facebook all the time, especially as people in reply to that tweet are claiming that articles they tried to share have not been restored.
While Facebook’s new coronavirus information centre appears a helpful tool, we’d sooner rather rely on official government and local health authority information than relying on a social media corporation to let us know. Make sure to contact the correct local authority if you have any concerns.