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Facebook Updates Its Response to the Coronavirus Outbreak, Including Free Ads for WHO

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With the Coronavirus outbreak slowly spreading across the globe, people are understandably spooked and looking for more information. And given the propensity for people to get their news updates from Facebook, it’s a fairly safe bet that many will be looking there – and with 2.5 billion active users, it’s now likely the best platform to reach the maximum amount of people, and disseminate necessary information on the latest updates, relevant to each region.

Late last month, Facebook outlined its initial response to the outbreak, which included increased fact-checking and removal of misinformation, along with dedicated News Feed notifications for users in relevant regions, as guided by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Facebook coronavirus alert

Now Facebook’s expanding on that initial announcement.

In a post on his personal Facebook profile, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has outlined a range of additional measures, including:

  • Providing the WHO with as many free ads as it needs to maximize its coronavirus response. Zuckerberg says it’s also providing “support and millions more in ad credits” to other organizations working to reach and raise awareness of the outbreak in impacted regions.
  • Blocking people from running ads which seek to exploit the situation. Facebook detailed the action it’s taking on this front last week
  • Providing anonymized Facebook data, including mobility data and population density maps, to help organizations to better understand how the virus is spreading.

In addition to this, and outside of Facebook itself, Zuckerberg also says that The Chan Zuckerberg Biohub is providing resources and support to map the cell structure of COVID-19, with a view to developing a vaccine. 

“Researchers are now using this to investigate potential ways to limit lung damage and address the symptoms of coronavirus. This is one of the fundamental ideas behind CZI – to do basic scientific research to create building blocks that health organizations can use to find cures for diseases.”

Zuckerberg also says that Facebook is working on more ideas to assist, with further announcements to come.

As noted, Facebook’s scale now makes it one of the key platforms for sharing information, and all Government organizations should be working in partnership with the platform in times of crisis to ensure optimal delivery of alert and awareness information. Whether you like it or not, or agree with its data-tracking processes, Facebook’s reach is undeniable – a recent report showed that around 75% of the people across the world who are able to access Facebook’s apps are doing so, an incredibly high penetration rate. 

Given this, it’s good to see Facebook taking on more responsibility to assist, and provide assistance where it can. 

Socialmediatoday.com

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The Most Visited Websites in the World – 2023 Edition [Infographic]

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The Most Visited Websites in the World - 2023 Edition [Infographic]

Google remains the most-visited website in the world, while Facebook is still the most frequented social platform, based on web traffic. Well, actually, YouTube is, but YouTube’s only a partial social app, right?

The findings are displayed in this new visualization from Visual Capitalist, which uses SimilarWeb data to show the most visited websites in bubble chart format, highlighting the variance in traffic.

As you can see, following Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the next most visited social platforms, which is likely in line with what most would expect – though the low numbers for TikTok probably stand out, given its dominance of modern media zeitgeist.

But there is a reason for that – this data is based on website visits, not app usage, so platforms like TikTok and Snapchat, which are primarily focused on the in-app experience, won’t fare as well in this particular overview.

In that sense, it’s interesting to see which social platforms are engaging audiences via their desktop offerings.

You can check out the full overview below, and you can read Visual Capitalist’s full explainer here.

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Cheeky branding wins (and missteps)

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Cheeky branding wins (and missteps)

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Branding and rebranding is getting more fun, here we look at some of cheekiest brands that have caught our eye – for the right and wrong reasons.



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Google Outlines Ongoing Efforts to Combat China-Based Influence Operations Targeting Social Apps

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Google Outlines Ongoing Efforts to Combat China-Based Influence Operations Targeting Social Apps

Over the past year, Google has repeatedly noted that a China-based group has been looking to use YouTube, in particular, to influence western audiences, by building various channels in the app, then seeding them with pro-China content.

There’s limited info available on the full origins or intentions of the group, but today, Google has published a new overview of its ongoing efforts to combat the initiative, called DRAGONBRIDGE.

As explained by Google:

In 2022, Google disrupted over 50,000 instances of DRAGONBRIDGE activity across YouTube, Blogger, and AdSense, reflecting our continued focus on this actor and success in scaling our detection efforts across Google products. We have terminated over 100,000 DRAGONBRIDGE accounts in the IO network’s lifetime.

As you can see in this chart, DRAGONBRIDGE is by far the most prolific source of coordinated information operations that Google has detected over the past year, while Google also notes that it’s been able to disrupt most of the project’s attempted influence, by snuffing out its content before it gets seen.

Dragonbridge

Worth noting the scale too – as Google notes, DRAGONBRIDGE has created more than 100,000 accounts, which includes tens of thousands of YouTube channels. Not individual videos, entire channels in the app, which is a huge amount of work, and content, that this group is producing.

That can’t be cheap, or easy to keep running. So they must be doing it for a reason.

The broader implication, which has been noted by various other publications and analysts, is that DRAGONBRIDGE is potentially being supported by the Chinese Government, as part of a broader effort to influence foreign policy approaches via social media apps. 

Which, at this kind of scale, is a concern, while DRAGONBRIDGE has also targeted Facebook and Twitter as well, at different times, and it could be that their efforts on those platforms are also reaching similar activity levels, and may not have been detected as yet.

Which then also relates to TikTok, a Chinese-owned app that now has massive influence over younger audiences in western nations. If programs like this are already in effect, it stands to reason that TikTok is also likely a key candidate for boosting the same, which remains a key concern among regulators and officials in many nations.

The US Government is reportedly weighing a full TikTok ban, and if that happens, you can bet that many other nations will follow suit. Many government organizations are also banning TikTok on official devices, based on advice from security experts, and with programs like DRAGONBRIDGE also running, it does seem like Chinese-based groups are actively operating influence and manipulation programs in foreign nations.

Which seems like a significant issue, and while Google is seemingly catching most of these channels before they have an impact, it also seems likely that this is only one element of a larger push.

Hopefully, through collective action, the impact of such can be limited – but for TikTok, which still reports to Chinese ownership, it’s another element that could raise further questions and scrutiny.

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