back to article Facebook does the right thing for once: Joins Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Reddit, Twitter, YouTube to clean out dodgy COVID-19 info

Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Reddit, Twitter and YouTube have issued a joint statement in which they promise to disinfect their platforms of contagiously incorrect COVID-19 content. “We are working closely together on COVID-19 response efforts," the statement says. "We’re helping millions of people stay connected …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd be more concerned about Fake News from our own Governments

    #schoolclosure

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Twitter

    Twitter doesn't make it easy to report dodgy tweets on the subject of health. I've seen calls to be able to report eg antivax and pseudoscience on there.

    1. Oliver Mayes

      Re: Twitter

      Youtube is just as bad, I stumbled across someone advertising a botnet for sale and tried to report it to youtube. You have to select the category of report and there isn't one that fits "generally illegal content".

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: Twitter

        It's so difficult to report bad things on the Internet, and actually see a result, that I don't bother any more. It's way harder to report it and get it stopped/removed than it is to post it.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Twitter

          That's very true. I recently was made aware of an active phishing campaign, and the attempt to take it down went like this:

          Tuesday morning: Someone tells me about the campaign and sends me a sample.

          Tuesday evening: I finish looking at things and send in reports (this isn't my job, so I didn't do much until I got home). The information I have implies that the campaign I'm seeing has been running since Monday.

          Wednesday morning: Nothing.

          Wednesday afternoon: Nothing.

          Thursday morning: Nothing.

          Thursday evening: I look at the phisher's website and figure out how to submit login pairs, so I write a bot to send in random ones from Tor. It probably won't really do anything, but I can't think of much else to do.

          Friday morning: Nothing.

          Friday afternoon: The phisher's domain name is about to end its grace period where they can get refunded for the purchase. They shut down.

          Friday evening: Nothing.

          Saturday: "Thank you for reporting this content. The content you have reported no longer appears to be available on the site concerned, so we can take no action at this time."

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pity about twitter blocking CDC

    yeap!

    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/cases-in-us.html came with a warning screen and a click through button

  4. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Flame

    Nice to see they draw the line at plain wrong health information, shame they didn't draw the line at plain wrong political stuff which put populist idiots in charge in the first place who are now unable to respond and do stupid stuff like wind down the pandemic office or say they want to "wait until it's the right time" as an excuse for doing nothing (hint: anyone with half a brain could see what was happening, if you want to see two weeks into the future, look at Italy and one week into the future, look at Spain).

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      It doesn't really matter as so many people are desperate to believe the whackiest shit available!

      I'm just waiting for the moment that usually comes in any large epidemic when something, person or group becomes the scapegoat and the lynch mobs form. People are often depressingly predictable.

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        It doesn't really matter as so many people are desperate to believe the whackiest shit available!

        This. I've already had a stream of emails about implausible Covid-19 facts from otherwise calm and sensible friends. For those in the UK I point them at Full Fact's page on coronavirus. It's a useful resource and more UK oriented than Snopes.

        A comment from a foaf: in any other circumstances, "Covid" would be a good name for an open source video conferencing system.

      2. Claptrap314 Silver badge

        Let's see... Without going looking for it, we have the Chinese press blaming the US military. With have some of the Arab press blaming the Jews.

        Are we off to a good start?

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Have the Jews being poisoning the water again? Unfortunately, real rumour, ie. the rumour was untrue but still had disastrous consequences, from Germany and Switzerland (and elsewhere) in the middle ages that led to the mass murder of the "usual suspects".

        2. Sherrie Ludwig

          Let's see... Without going looking for it, we have the Chinese press blaming the US military. With have some of the Arab press blaming the Jews.

          Latest tweets from Twitler calling it "China Virus". I call it Trump flu.

          1. holmegm Bronze badge

            It's a virus that literally came from China.

    2. Sherrie Ludwig

      "Nice to see they draw the line at plain wrong health information, shame they didn't draw the line at plain wrong political stuff which put populist idiots in charge in the first place who are now unable to respond and do stupid stuff like wind down the pandemic office or say they want to "wait until it's the right time" as an excuse for doing nothing (hint: anyone with half a brain could see what was happening, if you want to see two weeks into the future, look at Italy and one week into the future, look at Spain)."

      At this time, I see 8 up and 8 down, so apparently the populist idiot has convinced enough fools. I thought he would be an excrement tornado, did not realize he would endanger us to the point he has. BTW, ot five FB posts blocked yesterday, Thought it was an attack of the RW trolls, but FB is calling it an "AI malfunction".

  5. macjules Silver badge

    A statement from the Zuck ..

    .. while also jointly creating fraud and misinformation about the virus, elevating authoritative content on our platforms to the highest bidder ..

    FTFY

  6. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    So now they've taken the first step

    Now that they are collectively demonstrating that they can indeed curate their content, they will have a lot of trouble avoiding being taken to task on other issues.

    So we are going to be faced with the next problem : who decides what should be curated ?

    Oh and, side remark, I've got the feeling that there will be no outcry from the rabid defenders of Free Speech in this case. How curious.

    1. Mongrel

      Re: So now they've taken the first step

      Oh and, side remark, I've got the feeling that there will be no outcry from the rabid defenders of Free Speech in this case. How curious.

      Sadly I wouldn't count on that. The pushers of anti-vaxx and general quackery have been using "Medical Freedom"to push their useless quackery for a while and there's a large overlap with anti-government conspiracy theorists.

      For a relevant example see Alex Jones selling anti coronavirus toothpaste...

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: Alex Jones selling anti coronavirus toothpaste

        I heard yesterday that that little enterprise had been shut down. Frankly, I think he should be put in jail for that. You have no right to claim something is a medical cure when it is verifiably not. Medical quackery should be a federal crime, especially and more so if it puts people's lives in danger.

        1. Mongrel

          Re: Alex Jones selling anti coronavirus toothpaste

          Saw that, of course now it'll be "The cure they don't want you to know about!!", feeding into his (and his followers) paranoia about the government

        2. Boo Radley

          Re: Alex Jones selling anti coronavirus toothpaste

          Convicted scamvangelist Jimmy Bakker sells a silver solution (only $300 for a box of six bottles) that not only cures coronavirus, but also all venereal diseases AND HIV. The state of Missouri is now suing him to stop it, and the New York attorney general has sent a cease and desist order. How many religious nutjobs have been taken by Bakker?

          1. gerdesj Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: Alex Jones selling anti coronavirus toothpaste

            Colloidal silver has been pushed by snake-oil salesmen for years. It turns your skin blue so it must be good!

            https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/fullarticle/2214158

            Want to look like a smurf? then get it down you.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: So now they've taken the first step

      Now that they are collectively demonstrating that they can indeed curate their content

      I'm not convinced they can, at least with any accuracy. What I heard from various people yesterday was that Facebook appeared to be deleting posts more or less at random - things like people mentioning what their kids were doing at home.

    3. holmegm Bronze badge

      Re: So now they've taken the first step

      "So we are going to be faced with the next problem : who decides what should be curated ?"

      Oh, so there's a problem? That might be just what us "rabid free speechers" were on about, ya think?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google has warned that it is prioritising certain support chores – including content filtering

    let me be cynical (for a change), they would prioritize reports of copyright infringement?

  8. Winkypop Silver badge
    Devil

    Facebook does the right thing...

    The world REALLY is ending!

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Facebook does the right thing...

      It's not quite that serious yet. After all, Facebook have said they're going to do the right thing. Which they do all the time. That's no guarantee that they'll actually do it. When there's always the option of saying you planned to do the right thing but accidentally designed an algorithm that did something totally different instead...

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Facebook does the right thing...

        They're going to try to do something. Whether it's the right thing, and whether they succeed, are still very much in doubt.

        Personally, I think it unlikely that the social-media giants censoring misinformation will help very much, even if it meets whatever (probably meager) specifications the project may have. It will just drive the people who crave that misinformation to other sites, and fuel conspiracy theories. Driving undesirable expression underground has a poor track record.

  9. HenryNelson

    Shocking! Shocking I tell you! When was the last time you heard that Facebook did anything right and good for consumers? Because I can’t really remember. But today, according to the Wall Street Journal, something positive happened.

  10. Buka

    Sure, and who decides what is 'dodgy'? The same companies we trust a lot...

  11. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

    Be careful what you wish for...

  12. Diogenes

    Which authoritative

    I have been following Dr John Campell on youtube since he started covering @wuflu. So far, as far as i can tell he has been more trustworthy than the WHO !

    1. MrDamage

      Re: Which authoritative

      Can you call him trustworthy though? Whilst he is a qualified nurse, he is not a qualified medical doctor. He holds an academic doctorate in nursing.

      To be passing himself off as "Doctor" whilst passing out medical advice, is disingenuous at the very least.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Which authoritative

        He has a doctorate. He's a doctor. The word means "scholar". Medical doctors don't own the term.

  13. southern skies

    It's not working very well

    They have flagged two of my shares (articles written by an Associate Prof in Microbiology) as spam today. There's some great scicomm on this site, including this explainer about testing: https://thespinoff.co.nz/science/18-03-2020/siouxsie-wiles-how-testing-for-covid-19-works/ but FB has blocked it.

    But its okay, cos the antivaxxers and Nazis still have a free pass to post their bull...

  14. Aussie Doc
    Windows

    Yeah, sure.

    Maybe I'm just an old, cynical fart or something, but I really don't believe a word of this.

    If there's a chance it will hurt their hip pockets, I can't see any 'real' change happening soon.

    Happy to be wrong but meanwhile get off my lawn.

  15. holmegm Bronze badge

    Um

    Um, even authorities can't get their stories straight. E.g. are masks helpful, or not? One week they are useless for us commoners, the next they are discussing mandating them.

    In January, WHO tweeted that there was no evidence of person to person transmission . Should *that* tweet get memory holed? (It's still there.)

    The problems with censorship don't go away magically just because we want them to, or because it's important that they should.

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