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Twitter launches #coronavirus search prompt to prioritise official info on outbreak

In this photo illustration the Twitter logo is displayed on the screen of an iPhone in front of a computer screen displaying Twitter logos. Chesnot | Getty Images. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

Pan Pacific Agency | COMMUICATION AGENCY FOR PACIFICA REGIONS

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 31, 2020, Malay Mail. Social media giant Twitter has joined public health officials in combating misinformation on the Wuhan virus (2019-nCoV), introducing a search prompt that elevates verified news on the ongoing global health emergency, Malay Mail reported.

The firm launched the service in partnership with Malaysia and 14 other countries to provide users of the platform with the most current information about 2019-nCoV from their respective countries’ health authorities.

“Given the rapidly evolving nature of the issue and the growing international response, we’ve launched a new dedicated search prompt to ensure that when you come to the service for information about the #coronavirus, you’re met with credible, authoritative information first,” the firm’s representatives said when explaining the initiative.

“In addition, we’re halting any auto-suggest results that are likely to direct individuals to non-credible content on Twitter. This is an expansion of our #KnowTheFacts prompt, which we specifically put in place for the public to find clear, credible information on immunisation and vaccination health.”

When searching using the #coronavirus hashtag, users are shown an information box offering the latest facts about 2019-nCoV directly from the verified sources.

The box for Malaysian users is in Bahasa Melayu and links to the Twitter pages of the Health Ministry and its MyHealth portal.

Authorities here have been actively working to combat misinformation and fake news about the virus, with law enforcement agencies vigorously pursuing those suspected of creating or sharing such content.

The federal government has also designated Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad and Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah as the only official spokesmen in order to prevent conflicting information from reaching the public and causing confusion.

This morning, the World Health Organisation declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, following confirmation of human-to-human transmission.

China reported that deaths from the virus hit 213 as of yesterday while global infections have gone beyond 9,815 cases to surpass the level of the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak.

In Malaysia, the number of confirmed cases remains at eight, all of whom are Chinese nationals.

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