Facebook Gives WHO Free Adverts To Battle Coronavirus

Facebook will provide free online adverts to the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the global battle against the coronavirus outbreak continues.

The announcement was made by CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a Facebook post. He said coronavirus is a global challenge and that it has been working with health authorities to co-ordinate it response.

Earlier this week Amazon told its staff to defer non-essential travel due to the coronavirus outbreak, including travel within the US.

Image credit: CDCC

Coronavirus outbreak

World shares last week registered their biggest weekly drop since the 2008 financial crisis, erasing $5 trillion (£4tn) from shares worldwide, due to the disruption of supply chains, the cancellation of major events, and a reduction in business travel.

Significant tech events including Mobile World Congress and Facebook’s F8 developer conference have been cancelled due to the virus.

As of Wednesday, the WHO said more than 95,067 people have been infected worldwide, with more than 3,249 deaths (mostly in China, but some in other countries as well).

Facebook has therefore decided to take action.

“We’re focused on making sure everyone can access credible and accurate information,” wrote Zuckerberg. “This is critical in any emergency, but it’s especially important when there are precautions you can take to reduce the risk of infection.”

“f you search for coronavirus on Facebook, you’ll see a pop-up that directs you to the World Health Organization or your local health authority for the latest information,” he wrote. “If you’re in a country where the WHO has reported person-to-person transmission, you’ll also see it in your News Feed.”

“Given the developing situation, we’re working with national ministries of health and organisations like the WHO, CDC and UNICEF to help them get out timely, accurate information on the coronavirus,” he wrote.

“We’re giving the WHO as many free ads as they need for their coronavirus response along with other in-kind support,” he added. “We’ll also give support and millions more in ad credits to other organisations too and we’ll be working closely with global health experts to provide additional help if needed.”

Fake news

Zuckerberg also confirmed that Facebook was focused on stopping hoaxes and harmful misinformation about the virus.

“There’s more we can do to help people feel less isolated and help one another and we’re working on some ideas we’ll share in the next few weeks, but for now the focus is on slowing the spread of the outbreak itself,” he concluded.

Last month Facebook had said it would ban advertisements for products offering any cures or prevention around the coronavirus outbreak, and those that create a sense of urgency around the situation.

Meanwhile earlier this week Amazon said that it had blocked more than 1 million products from sale that inaccurately claimed to protect against, or even cure, the coronavirus.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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