San Francisco: Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company has taken down thousands of videos related to dangerous or misleading coronavirus information using its Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based technology.
In a blog post, Pichai said that since January, Google has blocked hundreds of thousands of ads attempting to capitalize on the coronavirus pandemic. "Last week, we announced a temporary ban on all ads for medical masks and respirators," he said on Monday.
"We continue to remove videos that promote medically unproven methods to prevent coronavirus in place of seeking medical treatment. On Google Maps, our automated and manual review systems continue to take down false and harmful content such as fake reviews and misleading information about healthcare locations," Pichai elaborated.
Meanwhile, Google said the coronavirus tracking and screening website that US President Donald Trump announced the company is building with 1,700 engineers is delayed to "later this week".
Google's subsidiary Verily is building the website to direct people to testing facilities.
"With local and national guidance evolving rapidly, Google will continue working with relevant agencies and authorities to roll out a website later this week that will surface authoritative information for people in the US, including on screening and testing," Google said in a statement.
Pichai said the company is partnering with the US government in developing a website dedicated to COVID-19 education, prevention, and local resources nationwide.
"Right now on the Google homepage we're promoting the "Do the Five" campaign to raise awareness of simple measures people can take to slow the spread of the disease, according to the WHO," he informed.
"Do the Five" raises awareness of simple measures people can take to slow the spread of the disease, according to the World Health Organization.
"On YouTube, we're using the homepage to direct users to videos from the CDC or other locally relevant public health agencies. We're highlighting content from authoritative sources when people search for COVID-19, and inserting information panels to provide additional context from high-quality sources," Pichai said.
Google is also witnessing more people using the premium features of Meet, its video conferencing app, which it made available to all G Suite customers at no cost until July 1.
"Through our philanthropic arm Google.org, we are committing $50 million to the global COVID-19 response, focusing on health and science, access to educational resources and small business support," said Pichai.
Meanwhile, top tech giants Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Reddit, Twitter and YouTube have come together to help fight the fake news and misinformation related to COVID-19 on their platforms.
In a joint statement, the companies said they are working closely together on COVID-19 response efforts.
"We're helping millions of people stay connected while also jointly combating fraud and misinformation about the virus, elevating authoritative content on our platforms, and sharing critical updates in coordination with government healthcare agencies around the world," they emphasized.
"We invite other companies to join us as we work to keep our communities healthy and safe," the tech firms said on Monday.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg went a step forward, saying if need be, the social networking platform would remove misinformation from politicians, celebrities and even from private groups.
The number of cases worldwide has surpassed 150,000, with over 7,000 deaths. Several European nations have enacted country-wide lockdowns, including France, Spain, Denmark, Netherlands and Ireland. The US death toll climbed to at least 81, with 25 of those deaths being reported from Kirkland, Washington.
Facebook and Instagram have already announced to ban ads and commerce listings selling medical face masks on their platforms to stop people from exploiting the coronavirus emergency.
Facebook said that coronavirus-related searches on its platform would be greeted with an automatic pop-up featuring information from the WHO. According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook is focused on stopping hoaxes and harmful misinformation.
However, cybercriminals are luring verified Facebook and Instagram users in the disguise of spreading awareness about novel coronavirus (COVID-19), offering them $1,500 per week via a global email fraud.
The emails came from 'health organisations', offering money to advertise their awareness content on coronavirus on their verified handles on social media platforms like Facebook.