MANILA - Technology giants Facebook, Google, TikTok and Twitter have joined forces to support the campaign against vaccine and COVID-19 misinformation, the Department of Health said Wednesday.
In a statement, the DOH said Facebook, Google, TikTok, and Twitter pledged their support in the fight against COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation online and to help build awareness about the vaccination program.
Launched Wednesday, the #ChecktheFAQs campaign aims to highlight the importance of accurate information and to encourage the public to fact-check information related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Social media and the internet have become "major sources" of news and information as many Filipinos spend a lot of time online, the agency said.
A "Check the FAQs" page has also been created on the DOH's website so Filipinos could check trustworthy information about the pandemic and the vaccines.
“As COVID-19 vaccination becomes top priority across the globe, we must also race to fight disinformation and misinformation surrounding COVID-19 vaccines and the pandemic. Spreading the right information can save lives," DOH Director of the Disease Prevention and Control Bureau and the Health Promotion Bureau Beverly Lorraine Ho said.
Facebook will help by making authoritative COVID-19 and vaccine information easy to find for its users, Facebook Philippines Head of Public Policy Clare Amador said.
Since the pandemic, Facebook said it has connected over 2 billion people to resources from health authorities through its COVID-19 information center and pop-up alerts on Facebook and Instagram, she said.
Accounts that violate pandemic-related rules can be removed, she added.
"While misinformation is complex and always evolving, we continue using research, teams, and technologies to tackle it in the most comprehensive and effective way possible,” Amador said.
Google Philippines country director Bernadette Nacario, for her part said the platform took down harmful and "misleading" content across its products including the video streaming platform YouTube.
Some 700,000 videos related to false COVID-19 information globally have been removed, Nacario said.
There is "potential harm," which might even cost lives, when people don't get the right information, said TikTok Philippines Head for Public Policy Kristoffer Rada, adding that the platform has committed to minimize the spread of misleading COVID-19 vaccine content.
TikTok has collaborated with fact-checking partners to determine authenticity of content. Violative content that can lead to misinformation are also being removed from the platform, he added.
"We take the responsibility of helping counter inauthentic, misleading or false information," he said.
Twitter, meanwhile, is protecting public conversations on COVID-19.
It has implemented policies including labels on Tweets that "may contain misleading information" and the removal of such from its platform, said Twitter Southeast Asia Head of Public Policy, Government and Philanthropy Monrawee Ampolpittayanant.
"We believe that giving access to factual information is integral in building public confidence on vaccines, as well as keeping the integrity of public conversations around health,” Ampolpittayanant said.
Google earlier said it has blocked over 99 million COVID-related ads in a move against "opportunistic abuse" during the pandemic.
In the Philippines, the coronavirus pandemic has led to a rise in scams using fake COVID-19 donation drives to siphon money from unsuspecting people.
Internet users can search for verified public forums such as the DOH Viber community for authentic COVID-19 updates. There is also a list of online resources in the Philippines for credible data on the pandemic.
-- with a report from Reuters