Facebook, Twitter and Google take steps to stop spread of coronavirus conspiracy theories

The novel coronavirus has been declared a global health emergency by the WHO.

As the coronavirus spreads, so has a slew of online misinformation, conspiracy theories and fear about the mysterious illness that was declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization this week.

A handful of social media giants, which have long faced backlash for the spread of misinformation online, have announced steps to combat false cures, conspiracy theories and more about the outbreak on their platforms.

Facebook's head of health Kang-Xing Jin, said in a blogpost Thursday that it has a third-party team of fact-checkers reviewing content related to the virus.

"When they rate information as false, we limit its spread on Facebook and Instagram and show people accurate information from these partners," Jin wrote. "We also send notifications to people who already shared or are trying to share this content to alert them that it’s been fact-checked."

"We will also start to remove content with false claims or conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organizations and local health authorities that could cause harm to people who believe them," Jin added.

If you search for the virus on Facebook or Instagram, "we will surface an educational pop-up with credible information," the blog post stated.

Google announced a similar move Thursday, saying it was working in partnership with the WHO to make resources about coronavirus more "easily accessible."

When people search for information about the virus on Google, they will find an alert on top of the results pages with "safety tips, info, resources" as well as Twitter updates from WHO, the company said in a tweet.

Similarly, Twitter said in a blogpost Wednesday that it had seen "over 15 million Tweets" on the topic of coronavirus in the past month, "and that trend looks set to continue."

"Given the rapidly evolving nature of the issue and the growing international response, we’ve launched a new dedicated search prompt to ensure that when you come to the service for information about the #coronavirus, you’re met with credible, authoritative information first," the company added.

The company also said it would remove users who attempt coordinated spreads of disinformation about the health crisis.