Earlier today CNN reported that as the coronavirus spreads further into Europe and the Americas, another infection is spreading: an epidemic of misinformation online.
Dubbed the "infodemic" by health officials, the flood of posts includes conspiracy theories about the origins of the novel coronavirus, dangerous advice about spurious treatments, and unreliable reports of vaccines.
The World Health Organization is now aggressively trying stop the spread of misleading and false information around COVID-19 by forging an alliance with the big tech companies such as Facebook, Google" and now Apple by it's latest move this afternoon that is presented below. For more on this read the full CNN report.
A new report this evening states that Apple is cracking down on apps related to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak that aren’t from recognized institutions like governments or hospitals, iPhone developers told CNBC.
Four independent developers told CNBC that Apple rejected their apps, which would allow people to see stats about which countries have confirmed cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Some of these apps used public data from reliable sources like the World Health Organization (WHO) to create dashboards or live maps. Some developers asked not to be named to avoid further complications with Apple’s review process.
One developer said an Apple employee explained over the phone that anything related to the coronavirus must be released by an official health organization or government. Another developer got a written response that “apps with information about current medical information need to be submitted by a recognized institution,” according to a screenshot seen by CNBC.
Apple has been specifically evaluating coronavirus apps to prevent the spread of misinformation. It looks at both where the health data comes from and whether the developers represent organizations that users can trust to publish accurate data, like governments or health-focused organizations, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The restriction appears to be working, as search results show few apps about the outbreak and no obvious spam. But it could also reduce the availability of software that would enable iPhone users to track the outbreak, and raise fairness questions about who is allowed to develop apps for iPhones.
The move comes as big tech companies have grappled with the effects of misinformation related to the coronavirus outbreak on their platforms. Last month, Amazon warned sellers that it would take down listings for products that claim to kill coronavirus. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote on Tuesday that he’s “focused on making sure everyone can access credible and accurate information” about the outbreak and is removing content with conspiracy theories. Google presents information from the World Health Organization at the top of Google searches about the coronavirus in a special module and has banned ads for anti-coronavirus products.
There's a lot more to this story and you read all about it in this CNBC report.