Facebook will run free ads for health organizations to fight coronavirus misinformation

Zuckerberg is, for once, right: tech companies need to step up to the plate.

The Asahi Shimbun/The Asahi Shimbun/Getty Images

Facebook is taking COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, very seriously — and it wants its users to know it. The massive social network will be running free ads for the World Health Organization (WHO) and others working to fight the spread of COVID-19, as outlined in a status update from Mark Zuckerberg this morning. To continue its fight against coronavirus misinformation, Facebook will direct searches for “coronavirus” to the WHO or local health authorities.

“We’re also focused on stopping hoaxes and harmful misinformation,” Zuckerberg said. “As our community standards make clear, it’s not okay to share something that puts people in danger.”

It’s easy to be cynical about Facebook’s end goals with maneuvers such as this one. But it’s also refreshing to see the company step up to do something about a real problem — one it has a hand in — with a viable solution.

Facebook is doing the right thing — Because of its enormous user base, Facebook is poised in a unique position to work against the tide of misinformation. The company has already made it clear that it wants to use this position for good — just last week Facebook announced it would be banning all ads claiming cures for the coronavirus.

Facebook is keeping on its toes when it comes to COVID-19. The company recently canceled its F8 conference and pulled out of SXSW due to concerns over the coronavirus.

Okay, there’s some bragging, too — In his status update, Zuck goes beyond announcing free WHO ads and speaks also to progress his philanthropy has made on fighting the virus itself. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a partnership with the Gates Foundation, has allowed researchers in Cambodia to sequence the COVID-19 genome for easier identification of the virus around the world.

Zuckerberg ends his status update with a plea for the tech industry to do more in assisting those affected by the coronavirus.