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Facebook confirms deleting dubious Covid-19 postings

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Facebook recently removed hundreds of thousands of misleading posts and comments about Covid-19 which were deemed harmful by third party experts. Hean Rangsey

Facebook confirms deleting dubious Covid-19 postings

Facebook's public policy director for Southeast Asia Rafael Frankel said at a press conference on Monday that hundreds of thousands of comments and posts about Covid-19 had been deleted from the social media platform for containing information that could lead to physical harm.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Information spokesperson Meas Sophorn said the ministry has warned the public about more than 30 Facebook accounts which were suspected of actively spreading misinformation about Covid-19.

Frankel said: “I don’t have statistics to share for Cambodia. What I can say is that globally, we have hundreds of thousands of pieces of misinformation that could lead to harm. We don’t usually separate our data on a country-by-country basis.”

However, he said in Cambodia, Facebook received reports from a wide range of users about misinformation, and the company actively sought it out as well.

Only misinformation which could lead to physical harm was removed, he said, and for those decisions, Facebook relied on outside experts.

“So, in the context of Covid-19, we are guided by the World Health Organisation and other global health experts about what kinds of content can lead to physical harm,” Frankel said.

In addition to removing harmful misinformation, Frankel said the social platform recently launched other features to help people in Cambodia move their businesses online.

He said Facebook is currently working with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to fund women entrepreneurs.

The new programme is expected to provide up to 1,700 young women entrepreneurs with specialised business training.

Sophorn told The Post on Monday that at the beginning of the pandemic, Cambodia encountered large amounts of misinformation about Covid-19, such as misconceptions about how the virus was spread and what its symptoms were.

“But at the same time, we saw some Facebook users share real information confirmed by relevant authorities about Covid-19,” Sophorn said.

He said the ministry had collaborated with relevant institutions and Facebook to fight against the misinformation.

Asked if Facebook had shut down accounts or pages deemed harmful in Cambodia, Sophorn said: “Yes, there is some degree of cooperation from Facebook. It stopped or suspended those Facebook accounts following requests from the ministry.”

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