The NHS has today unveiled a package of measures in the battle against coronavirus fake news, working with Google, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, to help the public avoid myths and misinformation.
A spokesman for NHS England said the measures include Google providing easy access to verified NHS guidance when someone searches for coronavirus.
The has also been NHS fighting bad advice and misinformation about the virus in the media and online, working with Twitter to suspend a false account posing as a hospital and putting out inaccurate information about the number of coronavirus cases; and publicly condemning homeopaths promoting false treatments.
The NHS is also working with Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to verify or ‘blue tick’ over 800 accounts belonging to NHS organisations including hospital trusts and local commissioning groups.
And following months of work, the NHS and Google will this week introduce new Knowledge Panels – prominent pop out boxes of information – as part of Google search on mobile, to ensure it provides the public in the UK with easy access to NHS information about more than 250 health conditions, including coronavirus.
Both Twitter and Facebook are directing users to the NHS website if they search for coronavirus.
Professor Jonathan Benger, chief medical officer at NHS Digital, which runs the NHS website says: “Getting the right health information to the public is essential, particularly during outbreaks of disease.
‘Syndication from the NHS website means that people can be confident that the information they see meets the highest clinical standards. The more we can share accurate information, the less likelihood there is of inaccuracy and rumour, which could put people at risk.’
Last week the Advertising Standards Authority also took action to ban two face mask adverts which were “likely to cause fear” and made “misleading” claims about their ability to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Tara Donnelly, chief digital officer at NHSX, said: ‘One of NHSX’s key missions is to ensure that the public are provided with accurate health information so they can be confident they are following official NHS advice.
‘By making NHS website content free to use for third party organisations, we are ensuring that more people get NHS advice when they search online rather than from one of the many other sources; some with guidance that isn’t right for the UK, and some that just aren’t right.’
Whilst the NHS website contains the most accurate information for the public about coronavirus, for people worried they might have the virus the health service has started directing them to the NHS 111 online service to help support the national phoneline after calls surged.
The NHS 111 online service has dealt with more than a million enquiries relating to coronavirus since it was updated for coronavirus last month.
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