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Facebook Expands Coronavirus Symptom Survey Globally

April 20, 2020

The social media giant is working with Carnegie Mellon University to track the spread of COVID-19, and the company says the data correlates with publicly available figures.

3 min read

This story originally appeared on PCMag

Facebook Expands Coronavirus Symptom Survey GloballyFacebook Expands Coronavirus Symptom Survey Globally

Facebook is set to launch its coronavirus symptom survey, which appears at the top of its “News” section so that people can report any symptoms of COVID-19 to a global audience. The survey is conducted by health researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and asks users if they have any symptoms of the virus: fever, cough, shortness of breath, or loss of smell.

In an editorial published in the Washington Post , Mark Zuckerberg said the data collected through the social network can help hospitals forecast coronavirus cases and provide information on where a coronavirus outbreak could occur next. Zuckerberg says the survey responses are only sent to health researchers and that Facebook cannot access the data.

The survey, which has been running for two weeks, receives around one million responses per week in the United States, and the data correlates with publicly available data on confirmed cases of coronavirus. As such, Facebook decided to implement it in more countries with the help of the University of Maryland. Meanwhile, Carnegie Mellon is building an API so that the results can be easily accessed by researchers, governments, and public health officials.

As The Verge reports, Zuckerberg believes global maps could provide a 'reality check' of where officials are mediocre at preventing the spread of COVID-19: “Frankly, some of these governments are not enthusiastic about the world. by knowing how many real cases there could be or indicators of how it is spreading in their countries … so it is very important to spread that data, “he said.

The company is also fighting the spread of false information surrounding the pandemic both on the social network and on the Instagram photo-sharing site. When the platform's external data verifiers find false information, the company will “limit its dissemination” and will send a notification to those who have shared or will try to share the information. WhatsApp, also owned by Facebook, is limiting the forwarding of viral messages to stop the spread of false information.

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