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How are big tech companies responding to coronavirus?

Posted on March 20, 2020

 

The coronavirus pandemic has been dominating news headlines around the world for the past three months, and with even more vigour in the UK as the situation intensifies. Schools are now closing, mass gatherings are being discouraged and businesses are asking their employees to work from home. What measures are tech and social media sites doing to help users through this crisis?

Google

The search company has been very proactive in keeping users up-to-date on the latest news and advice. In February, it set up SOS Alerts for searches on the subject and has recently asked companies to update their Google listings to keep the public aware of any recent changes. This is designed to keep businesses going and users informed of changes.

Facebook

Yesterday, CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg explained that the social media platform would look into implementing an information centre at the top of each user’s news feed, with data from reputable sources such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This stems from the platform, and others it owns such as Instagram, prioritising links to these sites when searches are conducted for ‘coronavirus’ and ‘COVID-19’.

Zuckerberg has said that the information centre will start appearing in the next couple of days for users in the US and a number of other nations. The aim of the centre is to direct the site’s large user base to vetted information, instead of some of the misinformation that has been spreading on the site and the internet as a whole.

Furthermore, to assist businesses in allowing staff members to self-isolate and socially distance themselves, Facebook will be making Workplace free for government employees and the emergency services. Workplace is a business-focused version of the Facebook service and can be used to connect a business’s workforce and collaborate on projects.

Twitter

Microblogging site Twitter has recently announced in a blog post that it would be removing all content from the site that promotes misinformation and unverified claims relating to coronavirus. The site believes that the spread of false information could put the public at risk of contracting the disease. This includes denial of expert advice and unofficial guidance.

Social media and tech sites are doing what they can to help users access the correct information from sources such as the NHS and the WHO by prioritising them at the top of search results and making data more accessible within platforms.

Businesses need to follow the best advice to keep their workforces safe, while still operating and helping their customers.

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