Facebook will remove fake cures, misinformation about coronavirus

The company will also block or restrict some hashtags on Instagram

People wear masks as they cross a road in Mong Kok District on Jan. 24 in Hong Kong.
Vernon Yuen/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Facebook on Thursday said it'll remove harmful misinformation about the coronavirus, including posts about false cures and prevention methods as well as content that discourages people from seeking treatment. The company will also block hashtags being used to spread misinformation about the outbreak on Instagram. The moves comes after the World Health Organization on Thursday declared the coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern. 

"As the global public health community works to keep people safe, Facebook is supporting their work in several ways, most especially by working to limit the spread of misinformation and harmful content about the virus and connecting people to helpful information," said Kang-Xing Jin, Facebook's head of health, in a blog post. 

Coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has spread across Asia and to the US, Australia, Europe and the Middle East, with the illness exhibiting pneumonia-like symptoms. It was first reported to the WHO on Dec. 31, and there have now been more than 9,700 confirmed cases and more than 200 deaths.

In addition to limiting misinformation and harmful content, the social network said it's working with WHO and other partners to deliver relevant, up-to-date information through messages on top of Facebook's news feed. It'll also surface a pop-up with "credible information" when people search for content related to the virus on Facebook or tap a related hashtag on Instagram. 

While it's working on these efforts now, Facebook said it'll take time to roll them out and ramp up enforcement. 

Now playing: Watch this: Deadly coronavirus detected in the US