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COVID-19: Google commits $6.5 Mn to fight misinformation

To curb the spread of misinformation swirling around the COVID-19 pandemic, search engine giant Google has announced $6.5 million in funding to support fact-checkers and health authorities to counter.

The fund will come out of the Google News Initiative, which works with journalists and publishers globally to fight misinformation.

“We’re providing $6.5 million in funding to fact-checkers and nonprofits fighting misinformation around the world, with an immediate focus on coronavirus,” said Alexios Mantzarlis, news and information credibility lead at Google News Lab in a blog post.

Mantzarlis further said that helping the world make sense of information related to COVID-19 requires a broad response, involving scientists, journalists, public figures, technology platforms and many others.

“Today’s announcement is one of several efforts we’re working on to support those covering this pandemic,” he added.

The World Health Organisation had earlier warned that an over-abundance of information following COVID-19 pandemic can make it harder for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance.

Ever since the coronavirus outbreak in December 2019, the misinformation around it has grown by leaps and bounds with reports of misleading and false content posted by people on social media platforms including Facebook, WhatsApp and TikTok.

The Indian government has also reportedly asked social media firms to keep a tab on posts shared by their users especially on anything that spreads misinformation against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Besides the fund, Google has been giving access to insights like local Google Trends data to fact-checkers, health organisations and local authorities so they can understand and explain what readers want to know about COVID-19.

For the initiative against misinformation, the search engine has also stepped up its support for First Draft, a non-profit project founded in 2015 to fight misinformation online.

First Draft also claims to provide an online resource hub, dedicated training and crisis simulations for reporters covering COVID-19 and assists newsrooms respond to and address the spread of misinformation quickly.

Google is also supporting Data Leads in partnership with BOOM Live in India in order to identify and produce topics that people are searching for and where there might be a gap in the availability of good information online.

In India, with around 600 fresh cases, the total number of COVID-19 patients have reportedly surged to 2,902. The death toll in the country climbed to 68.

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