WHO, Google working to fight spread of virus disinformation


The World Health Organization (WHO) is partnering with Google to prevent the spread of misinformation about the new coronavirus by ensuring WHO information leads search results about the illness.

WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday at the organization’s executive board meeting that other platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, TikTok and Tencent “have also taken steps to limit the spread of misinformation” regarding the virus, The Associated Press reported.

As the disease, which has killed at least 360 people thus far, spreads, health experts and officials have struggled to contain false claims and rumors that could spark panic.

Celebrity doctor Mikhail Varshavski told the BBC that there is “so much misinformation out there.”

“They take statistics not validated by scientists and put them online,” he added. “It causes anxiety among the public and creates panic.”

“Please don’t think that if you read someone’s tweet and it has been retweeted a lot, it’s an accurate source of information. It is not. Look for reputable organizations to get your information from,” Varshavski said in his YouTube video “The Truth About The Coronavirus,” describing steps viewers can take to avoid contracting the virus such as washing their hands regularly and avoiding contact with people displaying respiratory systems.

The hashtag #nCoV2019 has also spread on Twitter among scientists and researchers seeking to counter misinformation, according to the BBC, including unsubstantiated claims that the virus has an inordinately long incubation period.


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