The fight against online disinformation in the context of the pandemic


Google announced more actions to cut publicity going to conspiracy theory pages around COVID-19, while Facebook rolled out a site to debunk myths about the new coronavirus.

This week, Google announced that it will redouble its efforts to combat disinformation online, especially when it comes to the new coronavirus pandemic.

According to a company announcement, website ads promoting conspiracy theories around COVID-19 will begin to be blocked more extensively from next month.

The world’s largest Internet search provider will use automated and humane reviews to locate and take action against publishers and web advertisers who break the rules, according to the company’s official announcement.

It is worth clarifying that Google, in addition to being the most popular search engine in the world, concentrates most of the profits from digital advertising among its competitors, which notably includes Facebook and Amazon, for example.

In 2019 alone, the search giant achieved revenues of US $ 41.8 billion for this concept. According to a report last month from the firm eMarketer, this inflow of money will fall 5.3%, to US $ 39,580 million, due to the economic crisis caused by COVID-19. To set a benchmark, last year Facebook reported $ 29.95 billion in revenue from online advertising.

Google is acting after a study estimated that the company will spend approximately $ 19 million in advertising revenue this year on websites that publish misinformation and conspiracy theories about the virus.

The document was presented in early July by the Global Disinformation Index (GDI), which assured that digital advertising platforms managed by Google, Amazon and other technology companies will channel at least $ 25 million to websites that spread false information about COVID- 19 this year.

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This, in white silver, means that for every US $ 4 in advertising that reaches these sites, US $ 3 does it through the intermediation of Google platforms, the GDI estimated in its investigation.

Governments and health officials are still learning about the virus, and this has allowed misinformation to flourish online. The Silicon Valley giants have vowed to crack down, and Google has removed ads from sites that violate its policies. However, GDI believes that these platforms should do more to limit the spread of misinformation.

This is why the actions announced by Google are particularly relevant at this time, which is widely used to profit and spread information that, in many occasions, is about hard and crude stupidity.

“We are implementing additional safeguards by expanding our harmful health claims policies for both publishers and advertisers to include dangerous content about a health crisis that contradicts the scientific consensus,” a Google spokesperson said during the recent announcement

The new approach will ban content that “contradicts the scientific consensus of authority” during a major health crisis, according to the updated guidelines the company released on Friday.

Google said it will take action against ads that perpetuate misinformation and conspiracies regarding the pandemic. Sites that violate this policy repeatedly or blatantly may be prohibited from using Google’s advertising platforms, the company said.

YouTube, owned by Google, has already banned the monetization of medical misinformation and conspiracy theories around covid-19.

The Facebook case

Google’s actions and commitments come at a time when Facebook is battling its own storm for not taking broader actions to combat disinformation in times of pandemic and high racial tensions in the United States.

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Disagreements with Facebook led to the formation of a boycott against its advertising platform, which has listed firms such as the giant Unilever or Best Buy, one of the largest retailers in the United States. Until today, the boycott groups hundreds of companies, including brands such as The North Face, Adidas, Hewlett Packard, Patagonia and Clorox, among several other global heavyweights.

Just a few weeks ago, representatives of US civil rights organizations met with Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and head of Facebook as well as Sheryl Sandberg, number two of the social giant, to discuss what the platform does to combat racism. , discrimination and hate online.

At the end of the meeting, Jessica González, co-president of the Free Pres association (who participated in the virtual meeting, said that “I am very disappointed that Facebook continues to refuse to take responsibility towards its users, its advertisers and society in general” .

In recent days, the platform announced that it has added a new section to its Coronavirus Information Center called ‘COVID-19 Information’, which aims to debunk common myths about the virus.

Facebook said the new section will debunk common myths that have been identified by the World Health Organization (WHO), such as drinking chlorine or taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent the coronavirus.

“This is one more step in the work that we have been doing for a long time to combat misinformation about the pandemic,” the company said in a statement.

More than 2 billion people have been directed to the resources offered by Facebook and Instagram through the Coronavirus Information Center.

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Originally posted 2020-07-27 13:35:24.