Facebook will give the World Health Organization as many free ads as it likes in an effort to fight Covid-19. The measure was announced by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, through a post on Facebook. Zuckerberg said that Facebook will also work with other health organizations around the world to help them get information out to users in a timely manner. Zuckerberg's offer comes a little under a week since Facebook canceled its F8 conference.
In his statement, he said the measures were largely focused on stemming misinformation:
“We're also focused on stopping hoaxes and harmful misinformation. It's important that everyone has a place to share their experiences and talk about the outbreak, but as our community standards make clear, it's not okay to share something that puts people in danger. So we're removing false claims and conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organizations. We're also blocking people from running ads that try to exploit the situation -- for example, claiming that their product can cure the disease.”
Aside from helping users access reliable information, Facebook has been developing several tools, more of which it plans to share details of in the coming weeks. One of the things it's looking at is how people can use Facebook’s services to help contain the outbreak. Researchers are already using aggregated and anonymized Facebook data to better understand how the virus is spreading.
Zuckerberg also revealed that the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative in collaboration with the Gates Foundation had enabled researchers in Cambodia to sequence the full genome of Covid-19 in just a matter of days. A new public version of the IDSeq tool has been published so that scientists can access and study the full genome within the context of coronavirus sequences uploaded around the world. The firm said researchers are using tools from the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub to figure out ways to limit lung damage too and address symptoms of Covid-19.
Over the coming weeks and months as Covid-19 spreads to more countries, expect to see more related content on Facebook as organizations such as WHO publish information in a bid to stem the expansion of the virus.