Tech giants, which are suffering due to the spread of the deadly Coronavirus (COVID-19), are doing their bit to curb the spread of misinformation via their products and services. Apple, Google and Facebook are already taking preventive measures for their employees but also making sure that their respective app stores (Google and Apple) and platforms (Facebook and Instagram) do not become sources or mediums of spreading misinformation related to the epidemic.
According to a CNBC report, both Google and Apple have started to remove apps that are providing information related to the coronavirus but are not recognised by health organisations or the government. Citing app developers, the news firm reported that while Apple is rejecting all such coronavirus-related apps, Google is not returning any results for coronavirus-related searches on the Play Store. However, it is unsure whether Google is restricting the approval of new apps as well.
The report says that one developer had received a message from Apple which reads, ‘Apps with information about current medical information need to be submitted by a recognised institution.’ Similarly, Google also has a policy against apps that ‘lack reasonable sensitivity towards or capitalise on a natural disaster, atrocity, conflict, death, or other tragic event[s]’, and those that appear to ‘profit from a tragic event with no discernible benefit to the victims.’ Google has also started banning COVID-19-related ads.
Facebook Inc is also banning coronavirus-related ads on Facebook and Instagram. The company has also clarified that it will not allow people to post ads with misinformation related the coronavirus. ‘We’re removing false claims and conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organisations. We’re also blocking people from running ads that try to exploit the situation – for example, claiming that their product can cure the disease,’ Zuckerberg wrote in a post.
Other tech giants like Twitter and Amazon are also cracking down misinformation. Just like Facebook, Twitter has also banned ads that spread misinformation on the micro-blogging platform. Amazon is also reportedly removing products that are exploiting the situation by claiming that the products can cure COVID-19. It is also removing listings that have items like hand sanitisers and face masks at inflated prices.