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Facebook Will Soon Tell You if You've Interacted With Coronavirus Misinformation

The new notification feature will begin rolling out in the coming weeks.
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If you interact with a coronavirus-related hoax or other harmful misinformation on Facebook, expect to hear about it in the coming weeks. 

Facebook said on Thursday that it's taking more proactive steps to mitigate coronavirus-related misinformation on Facebook. Soon, users who have "liked, reacted or commented on harmful misinformation about COVID-19 that we have since removed" will receive a notification from Facebook that the content was false and be directed to myths that have been debunked by health organizations, Facebook wrote in a blog post

On Facebook and other Internet platforms, misinformation, hoaxes and conspiracy theories related to the virus have proliferated, and companies have moved to swiftly respond. Facebook also restricted message forwarding on WhatsApp this month because of its potential to "contribute to the spread of misinformation." 

Facebook shares fell 2% on Thursday to $173.32.

The notification feature announced on Thursday follows several other measures the company has taken to mitigate the virus' impact -- both off and on its own platforms. 

In addition to tamping down misinformation, Facebook has had to accommodate a surge in usage of Messenger, WhatsApp and other messenger services. The company recently reported a 50% increase in messaging in countries hard-hit by the virus, as well as increases in video calling, Instagram and core Facebook.

It also banned coronavirus-related ads and shifted much of the typical content moderation workflow -- taking down terrorist-related or other illegal content -- onto full-time staffers working from home. 

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For Facebook, coronavirus challenges also extend to shoring up its own business model amid a weaker environment for ads. 

The company warned last month that despite more engagement on Facebook's apps, the company's advertising revenue will be "adversely affected" by the virus. And many off the apps that are seeing increased usage, such as WhatsApp, are not yet well-monetized. 

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, who leads Facebook's monetization efforts, recently announced an initiative offering $100 million worth of grants and credits to small businesses impacted by the virus.

Small businesses make up a meaningful chunk of Facebook's advertiser base, and are a primary constituency for Facebook's emerging monetization efforts such as payments and commerce-related features on WhatsApp and Instagram. 

Small-to-medium-sized businesses also make up a meaningful chunk of Facebook's advertiser base, and are a primary constituency for emerging monetization efforts on WhatsApp and Instagram.

Around 30% of Facebook’s revenue comes from “at-risk” categories likely to spend much less on advertising, wrote Needham analyst Laura Martin last month, and include travel and movie-related advertisers as well as smaller advertisers dealing with coronavirus-related economic uncertainty. 

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