NHS tackles coronavirus fake news online

NHS England has today announced a number of initiatives to ensure the public receive accurate information on the coronavirus.

The NHS will work with Google, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to implement measures to promote good and verified advice.

It includes Google providing access to verified NHS guidance when someone searches for coronavirus, as well as working with Twitter to suspend false accounts putting out inaccurate information. It will work with the social media companies to ensure over 800 NHS accounts become verified. Twitter and Facebook are also directing people to the NHS Website when they search coronavirus.

This week the NHS and Google will also introduce Knowledge Panels – prominent pop out boxes of information – as part of Google search on mobile, to provide access to NHS information about more than 250 health conditions, including 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.”

Sir Simon Stevens, NHS chief executive “The NHS has already been battling coronavirus fake news, from working to take down false Twitter accounts to speaking out against misleading treatments being promoted by homeopaths online.”

“It’s right that social media platforms and search engines take any action so they can help ensure the public are directed to NHS advice first.”

Tara Donnelly, chief digital officer at NHSX “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.”