Written by

Bernard Marr

Bernard Marr is a world-renowned futurist, influencer and thought leader in the fields of business and technology, with a passion for using technology for the good of humanity. He is a best-selling author of 20 books, writes a regular column for Forbes and advises and coaches many of the world’s best-known organisations. He has over 2 million social media followers, 1 million newsletter subscribers and was ranked by LinkedIn as one of the top 5 business influencers in the world and the No 1 influencer in the UK.

Bernard’s latest book is ‘Business Trends in Practice: The 25+ Trends That Are Redefining Organisations’

View Latest Book

Follow Me

Bernard Marr ist ein weltbekannter Futurist, Influencer und Vordenker in den Bereichen Wirtschaft und Technologie mit einer Leidenschaft für den Einsatz von Technologie zum Wohle der Menschheit. Er ist Bestsellerautor von 20 Büchern, schreibt eine regelmäßige Kolumne für Forbes und berät und coacht viele der weltweit bekanntesten Organisationen. Er hat über 2 Millionen Social-Media-Follower, 1 Million Newsletter-Abonnenten und wurde von LinkedIn als einer der Top-5-Business-Influencer der Welt und von Xing als Top Mind 2021 ausgezeichnet.

Bernards neueste Bücher sind ‘Künstliche Intelligenz im Unternehmen: Innovative Anwendungen in 50 Erfolgreichen Unternehmen’

View Latest Book

Follow Me

Coronavirus Fake News: How Facebook, Twitter, And Instagram Are Tackling The Problem

2 July 2021

Fear inevitably leads to panic, speculation, and the spread of misinformation and there’s a lot of fear in the world right now.

As I write, entire countries, including Italy and India, are going into lockdown. Thankfully modern technology means even when we’re isolating at home, we don’t have to be alone. Social media, video calling, and other online channels mean our friends and loved ones are usually just a click away. We may have become accustomed by now to taking this tech for granted, but in the immediate future, it’s going to become a lifeline for many.

Of course, it has its downsides too. Whispers, rumours, and outright lies can spread around the world faster than ever before and this can feed the fear, anxiety, and mental stress that many people are experiencing.

As the crisis began to unfold across the globe, bad, dangerous, or just plain stupid information came with it. One of the earliest false rumours was that drinking alcohol provided a level of protection against infection. While this may have generated a few clicks and some advertising revenue, for sensationalist outlets pushing the line, it is also clearly dangerous advice, given that alcohol is known to weaken the immune system and, if anything, lower your resistance. It was even reported that deaths were caused by people consuming industrial alcohol to try and disinfect themselves.

With this in mind, it’s reassuring that some of the biggest internet and social media companies are making an effort to live up to their responsibilities, as gatekeepers of what information can be sent over their networks.

Twitter, for example, moved early on in the crisis to ensure that users searching for information on the virus were shown reliable and authoritative sources such as the World Health Organisation or national health agencies, rather than conspiracy sites or news outlets frequently flagged for spreading “fake news.”

During the first month after the virus first emerged, more than 15 million tweets were sent mentioning coronavirus so this move was aimed at ensuring fact-checked, scientific advice was discoverable amongst the noise, conjecture, and panic.

As the crisis developed, it stepped up its use of machine learning algorithms to detect the spread of false information that had the potential to cause harm, and flag that content for removal. This included detecting accounts being used to deny or advise against following official advice, or promoting alternative treatments or cures that are not proven to be effective. It was also programmed to look for commonly-spread falsehoods, including the alcohol cure or children being immune to the illness.

The world’s biggest social network, Facebook, itself unveiled a raft of measures designed to help keep users safe from misinformation, as well as exploitative practises. It deployed algorithms to look for false or sensationalist claims made in advertising for example, by people offering homoeopathic remedies and implying that they could prevent, cure, or protect against the virus. It also put in place a ban on the sale of certain items that are in short supply because of the outbreak, such as face masks and hand sanitisers, unscrupulous advertisers switched to falsely claiming that other, unrelated but necessary products were likely to become hard to get hold of due to the outbreak, so algorithms were developed to detect this, too.

Instagram also owned by Facebook uses algorithms to identify and track hashtags that are frequently used in posts containing false or misleading information. As of this week, it also began redirecting anyone searching for information on coronavirus to a special message providing links to verified and authoritative information sources. This was done to attempt to cut down the number of people sharing unverified information on the platform.

Health services and government agencies have also begun partnering with tech giants to ensure reliable information doesn’t get swamped by the fake news and opportunism. In the UK, the National Health Service worked with Twitter to speed up the verification process of over 800 accounts operated by its different units, divisions, and programmes, ensuring that the “blue tick” was in place to let users know that advice from these accounts is trustworthy.

Online platforms that sell themselves on their tolerance for free speech and a disinclination to censor their users face stiff challenges in times of global panic. Message board Reddit allows conspiracy talk the spreading of unsubstantiated rumours, often grounded in political bias or even racism but has moved groups that frequently allow misleading information into its own form of quarantine. The (mis)information is still available for anyone to read, but visitors are shown a warning before they see it, stating that it may be unverified, untrue, or unsafe.

And this week, messaging app WhatsApp launched a new feature into beta that offers users the chance to search the web for the truth, when they receive messages containing information that might not be true. This comes as organisations, including the Indian government and the World Health Organisation, use the platform to launch coronavirus chatbots. The hope is that people will use them to help sort fact from fiction, as they are trying to understand the impact of coronavirus on their lives.

The World Health Organisation is a good starting point for reliable advice: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public. This includes myth-busters and advice on when to use masks, healthy parenting, and getting your workplace ready.


Business Trends In Practice | Bernard Marr
Business Trends In Practice | Bernard Marr

Related Articles

The 5 Biggest Financial Services Tech Trends In 2022

Many of them have seen traditional models of working and business disrupted by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the fast-changing technology landscape, and a new breed of agile, tech-driven startups.[...]

The Five Biggest Retail Tech Trends In 2022

Online, retailers are busier than ever and challenged by the need to fill orders and refresh inventory at an increasingly rapid pace, as well as reduce revenue and wastage caused by returns.[...]

The Future of Phones

From simply letting us make calls on the move, it has evolved into an “anything, anywhere” machine that practically runs our lives for us.[...]

The Future of Cars

Four wheels, an internal combustion engine, and a steering wheel – for the first 100 years of their existence, motor cars have got faster and sleeker but more or less stuck to the basics.[...]

The 8 Biggest Consumer And Customer Experience Trends In 2022 | Bernard Marr

The 8 Biggest Consumer And Customer Experience Trends In 2022

Our world is changing rapidly, and so too are consumer expectations. Therefore, if your business wants to continue to add real[...]

The Future Of Delivery Robots | Bernard Marr

The Future Of Delivery Robots

Delivery robots – just a few years ago, the stuff of pure science fiction – are now very much a reality and quickly becoming a part of[...]

Stay up-to-date

  • Get updates straight to your inbox
  • Join my 1 million newsletter subscribers
  • Never miss any new content

Social Media

0
Followers
0
Likes
0
Followers
0
Subscribers
0
Followers
0
Subscribers
0
Followers
0
Readers

Podcasts

View Podcasts