Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic

Internet's largest social networks issue joint statement on COVID-19 misinformation

Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Reddit, Twitter, and YouTube put out joint statement promising to fight COVID-19 fraud and curb misinformation.

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The internet's largest social networks have issued today a joint statement on the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak, promising to fight fraud and curb misinformation shared on their platforms.

Signatories include Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Reddit, Twitter, and YouTube.

The joint statement comes after multiple US tech companies attended a teleconference last week with White House officials.

During the teleconference, which allegedly lasted for more than two hours, US government officials asked US tech companies to help stop the spread of coronavirus conspiracy theories online, among other things.

In their joint statement today, the seven social networks said they are now coordinating and working together with each other and government healthcare agencies across the world on tackling COVID-19-related misinformation.

"We're helping millions of people stay connected while also jointly combating fraud and misinformation about the virus, elevating authoritative content on our platforms, and sharing critical updates in coordination with government healthcare agencies around the world," the companies said.

The joint statement doesn't go into detail on how the companies will be handling COVID-19 fraud and misinformation; however, it comes to quench criticism about misleading coronavirus content that has recently surfaced on some of their platforms.

This includes fraudulent ads about COVID-19 cures, news articles from unknown sources or with incorrect information, and videos peddling conspiracy theories about the disease's origin.

Nevertheless, some of the social networks that signed the joint statement today have already been fighting against the onslaught of misleading COVID-19 content shared on their platforms even before today's announcement.

For example, Google has been banning COVID-19-related Android apps, Facebook has been taking down misleading ads, and Twitter has been blocking accounts sharing conspiracy theories.

However, these efforts have not been enough, according to some critics, and much work is still needed.

For example, despite being blatantly and obviously false, over the weekend, a rumor that President Trump was preparing to lock down the US went viral on various social networks leading to many Americans needlessly prepping and stocking up for a prolonged quarantine stay. Such rumor, should, in theory, been caught and taken down much faster.

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