Facebook and Instagram to remove fake news about vaccines from COVID-19

The progress of some countries towards vaccination campaigns against COVID-19 has led Facebook to announce actions that will be taken on fake news related to the topic. The company said that in the coming weeks, it will begin to remove posts with false vaccine allegations. The measure also applies to Instagram.

facebook icon iphone iphone ios tecnoblog

Facebook and Instagram on mobile (Image: Tecnoblog)

In a statement, Facebook said the decision to remove fake news about the new coronavirus is part of its policy to prevent misinformation that could cause physical harm to users. With the announcement, the company promises to exclude false claims about the safety, efficacy, components and side effects of vaccines.

This includes false accusations that vaccines would be used to implant microchips in the population or that they would have components that are not officially listed. The posts will also be removed if they promote conspiracy theories known to be false like that of people who would be used without their consent for testing the effectiveness of vaccines.

Facebook also said that, even after implementing the measures, it will receive guidance from public health officials to continue updating the list of statements that will be removed as new facts about COVID-19 are discovered.

Facebook fights fake news with Google and Twitter

This is not Facebook’s first position to fight fake news about vaccines. In November, the company merged with Google and Twitter, as well as fact-checking agencies and government agencies, in an initiative to combat misinformation related to this issue.

Organized by Full Fact, an entity that acts against false information, the action aims to anticipate a wave of fake news amid the advancement of the development of vaccines against the new coronavirus. Facebook already prohibits advertisements with anti-vaccine speech and YouTube displays notices with facts about vaccines from COVID-19.

WhatsApp banned more than 360,000 accounts in Brazil in three months

WhatsApp released an overall assessment of its actions to combat misinformation in the 2020 Municipal Elections. As a result, the application banned more than 360,000 accounts in Brazil in three months, for violating the platform’s policies by mass messaging .

WhatsApp Messenger (Image: Mika Baumeister / Unsplash)

WhatsApp Messenger (Image: Mika Baumeister / Unsplash)

According to the report, between September 27 and November 29, WhatsApp received 4,981 complaints through a tool developed in partnership with the Superior Electoral Court (TSE). Of these accounts, 1,042 were banned – 64% of them were automatically blocked by the application’s integrity system.

In addition to the reports reported by the TSE channel, the messenger also excluded accounts for massive or automated message sending (spam) with the help of machine learning technology. In all, more than 360,000 profiles were blocked and disabled – below the 400,000 accounts banned in the 2018 presidential elections.

The partnership between TSE and WhatsApp to combat the mass firing of messages in the 2020 elections gave citizens the power to denounce these illegal practices that can unbalance the electoral game. This and other partnerships signed by the Court to tackle disinformation contributed to voters having access to quality information during the electoral period and to the strengthening of Brazilian democracy.

Aline Osorio, secretary general of the TSE Presidency and coordinator of the Court’s Program to Combat Disinformation.

WhatsApp and TSE celebrate successful partnership

For Dario Durigan, Head of Public Policies for WhatsApp on Facebook Brazil, the partnership was crucial to curb misinformation during the 2020 Municipal Elections. In addition to the whistleblowing channel, the entities collaborated in the creation of “Electoral Dispatch on WhatsApp”, an chatbot to promote the circulation of reliable information during the past three months.

This tool will remain active until December 20, the date of the eventual second round of elections in Macapá. WhatsApp was also with the TSE to train servers of the Regional Electoral Courts (TREs) to combat misinformation on the web.

Google announces Android news package on Gboard, Nearby Share and more

Google released a list of news for several of its products for Android, such as Gboard, Nearby Share and even Maps. The updates will be delivered for use later this year, include more users of old versions of the operating system and do not depend on firmware updates (phew!).

Google creates package of new features for various apps on Android (Image: publicity / Google)

Google creates package of new features for various apps on Android (Image: publicity / Google)

The first novelty is the greater amount of emojis that can be mixed, with Emoji Kitchen on the keyboard. Previously limited to hundreds of combinations, there may now be more than 14,000 of them. The idea is this: you choose a smiley figure and then put a snowman, then the Gboard makes the snowman smiling. Or touch the emoji with a kiss and then the pineapple to make a kissable pineapple.

Google improves accessibility of more Android devices

The second will not arrive in Brazil, but if you have a Play Store account in the United States or United Kingdom, you can transform digital books into audiobooks. The narration is created automatically. The third puts the Voice Access which is already on Android 11, for all users with devices running at least Android 6 Marshmallow.

The feature is focused on accessibility and allows control of the smartphone or tablet screen by voice, with the help of machine learning. With it the user can ask to open an app, or scroll the page and even to touch a button.

Google Maps is also in the new feature pack and will place a different tab on the home screen. With the name “Go”, it takes the place of the current “Day by day” and will show suggestions for places already selected as favorites by the user, or for others recently searched. The goal is to create the route to the destination with fewer taps on the screen.

Also in December, Android Auto will be launched in more countries in Europe, Africa and Southeast Asia. Finally, Nearby Share will be able to share applications downloaded from the Play Store even when one side of the connection is not receiving data from the operator, nor from Wi-Fi.

With information: Google.