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Facebook Warning Users Before Sharing COVID-19 Links

Facebook is issuing warnings to users before sharing links to content about COVID-19 that may be outdated or contain misinformation.

Facebook Warning Users Before Sharing COVID-19 Links

Facebook users are seeing a new notification screen when sharing COVID-19 links, warning them the content may be old or inaccurate.

The notification is designed to help make users aware of how recent the content is, and inform them about the source that published it.

Facebook will also direct users to its COVID-19 information center that contains credible information from global health authorities.

In an announcement, the company states:

“We want to make sure people have the context they need to make informed decisions about what to share on Facebook, especially when it comes to COVID-19 content.

So today, we’re starting to roll out a global notification screen to give people more context about COVID-19 related links when they are about to share them.”

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The notification screen will not appear when users share links from credible health authorities such as the World Health Organization.

Facebook doesn’t want to slow the spread of credible information in any way. But time will tell if it has any impact on sharing misinformation.

Even with this measure in place, there’s nothing to stop users from sharing whatever links they want about COVID-19.

Although users will have more context about the link they’re sharing, ultimately they can still choose to share it.

David Gillis of Facebook’s design team says the company has seen good results from informed sharing screens so far:

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The informed sharing screen he’s referring to is one that was introduced in June to warn users about sharing content older than 90 days.

Here’s some background information on informed sharing screens.

Facebook’s Informed Sharing Screens

Facebook launched an initiative in June to warn users when they’re about to share links that are a few months old.

Facebook Warning Users Before Sharing COVID-19 Links

The notification screen for old links appears regardless of the source of the content.

So even if the old content is from a trusted authority, Facebook will still display the warning screen.

According to Facebook’s research, the timeliness of an article is key when users decide what to read, trust, and share.

However, not everyone checks the date on an article before sharing it with others.

That leads to people inadvertently sharing old news as a current story.

After it’s shared others may see the link in their feed and also assume it’s recent.

Since it’s not uncommon for people to share links without clicking on them, it’s easy for outdated content to spread.

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That’s what Facebook is trying to mitigate with informed sharing screens.

And, according to Facebook’s design team, it’s working.

Now, Facebook is applying the exact same measures to COVID-19 links.

It will be interesting to see if Facebook expands this feature to other types of content in the future.

There’s certainly other types of content that warrant this type of warning.

Many argue Facebook isn’t doing enough to stop the spread of inaccurate, and potentially harmful, content on its platform

Perhaps the company may implement even harsher measures than this at some point?

Source: Facebook Newsroom

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Matt Southern

Lead News Writer at Search Engine Journal

Matt Southern has been the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a degree in communications, Matt ... [Read full bio]

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