In an effort to disseminate trustworthy health information on COVID-19, Facebook will roll out its own coronavirus information center, a central hub on the vast social network where the company will collect information from sources like the CDC and WHO.
“We’re going to be putting it at the top of everyone’s Facebook feed,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a press call announcing the feature.
The info center will roll out in “a number” of U.S. locations and some in Europe across the next 24 hours, with a more global rollout in the next few days.
Zuckerberg says the goal is to get authoritative health information “in front of everyone who uses our services.” The information center will include prominent links to global health authorities, but also curated posts from celebrities, politicians and journalists to spread vetted useful health information to the broadest possible audience.
“Were designing it to be very adaptive on a day to day basis,” Zuckerberg said. The center will include information that varies from location to location “because the guidance is different in different countries.” He noted that the company is coordinating with various governments to tailor that info.
While Zuckerberg noted that Facebook has added plenty of disaster relief messaging and tools in the past, the novel coronavirus poses a larger challenge. “We’ve never had to do it at the scale we’re talking about here,” Zuckerberg said.
Facebook-owned WhatsApp, an infamous hotbed of hard-to-track misinformation, also added its own coronavirus info hub.
Along with its COVID-19 misinformation policing efforts, Facebook has banned ads and listings for medical face masks, a key element of protective gear for frontline medical workers that faces potentially critical global shortages. Even so, on the world’s biggest social network, opportunists find a way.
Following Microsoft, Facebook also made an early commitment to pay hourly workers impacted by office closures, as many non-salaried workers around the world fear for their livelihoods.
The novel coronavirus has upended the global economy and created broad chaos in the business world, even for tech’s most adaptable, well-resourced giants. With every major tech event canceled or made remote, including Facebook’s F8 developer conference, the year is taking a very different shape than anyone in the industry could have anticipated.