Mark Zuckerberg himself said it: the coronavirus emergency is changing the way Facebook operates, imposing many changes. The situation is pushing the company to its limits due to a significant increase in the use of services and the many inaccurate and misleading news circulating on the platform.
Controlling fake news takes a lot of resources
Facebook, in fact, is constantly monitoring potentially dangerous misinformation about the virus and is putting a strain on moderators who are currently doing their work remotely, at home, precisely because of the spread of the pandemic.
This is an unprecedented effort for the staff of the Menlo Park company: a surge of control to ensure the correct functioning of the platform.
“At this moment, we are not yet facing an epidemic involving most countries in the world,” Zuckerberg told reporters in a conference call, “but if we are going to get there“, he continued, “we really need to make sure that we are in step with the times from the infrastructure point of view, to make sure that the situation does not precipitate“.
Zuckerberg also added that Facebook services are facing a massive increase in use as the coronavirus forces millions of people around the world to stay at home.
This is an increase indicated as “well beyond” the biggest annual peak usually recorded on New Year’s Eve. Voice and video calls on WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, in particular, are used more than double the usual levels.
This technical pressure to keep the engine running adds to the activity that Facebook has been doing for months to combat the spread of false news around the coronavirus, eliminating misleading information in its entirety, from how the virus spreads to what can cure it.
The company plans to launch a new Coronavirus Information Center to top Facebook feeds in the US and Europe in the next 24 hours. The initiative will be extended to other countries in the coming days.
The notice will feature information verified by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, as well as public health experts and governments around the world.
“I think we have operated quite effectively so far and I am proud of our response to the situation,” said Zuckerberg. “We haven’t been perfect but it’s very difficult to be perfect on this scale,” he added.
Facebook also experiences the remote work for the coronavirus
Many of the company’s 45,000 full-time employees worldwide have been working remotely since January and Facebook is now urging all of its employees to work from home, with the exception of a few key functions such as server maintenance and security services.
Zuckerberg also said he’s working at home. “I don’t think it would be a good example to encourage everyone to work remotely without doing it themselves,” he said. “It’s a big change,” he concluded.
“After the coronavirus crisis, we will continue in this direction,” he said. “We don’t consider it temporary.“
But Facebook’s CEO also had to admit that as Facebook adapts to the changes imposed by the coronavirus, certain types of misinformation content, which the company would normally be able to block, could get out of control at this particular time.