Public Knowledge Presents:

How Are Platforms Responding to This Pandemic?

What Platforms Are Doing to Tackle Rampant Misinformation
During Our 'Infodemic'

By: Lisa Macpherson
Photo by Brian McGowan on Unsplash

Given the enormous role they now play in distributing news and information, it is important that the major technology platforms help consumers navigate between fact and fiction, between helpful and harmful information distributed on the internet. The quality of information available at the onset of the coronavirus epidemic, it’s not an exaggeration to say, became a matter of life and death. We wanted to know: are the digital platforms doing their part to help us work through the difficulties engendered by the Coronavirus crisis? Are they setting a new standard of corporate behavior to prevent the dangerous flow of disinformation, or falling down on the job? And perhaps most importantly, what should our expectations be after the pandemic is over?

To answer these questions, beginning in early March and for three months in 2020, Public Knowledge tracked public information about the platforms’ approaches to countering misinformation about the pandemic, as well as analysis and commentary about them from a wide variety of academic, journalistic, policy, and civil society organizations. Our goal was to help inform policy perspectives about the digital platforms and their approaches to countering misinformation.[1]

Here’s what you’ll find on the site:

  • Overview: provides a general view of the scale of misinformation about the infodemic.

  • Dangers of the Infodemic: describes the harms and types of misinformation we address.

  • Insights & Commentary: provides analysis and commentary about the platforms’ efforts, organized by week of our reporting period (weekly reports were issued on Wednesdays).

  • Case Studies: provides a comprehensive summary of what each platform company communicated specifically in response to the coronavirus, organized by the date of their communication.

Lisa Macpherson


Lisa Macpherson
Senior Policy Fellow

Acknowledgments & Research Sources

This report is prepared using publicly available sources and we use every effort, including automated citation, to ensure proper credits. Thank you to Kathleen Burke, Extern and my research and writing partner; Meredith Whipple, Digital Outreach Director; and Shiva Stella, Communications Director for their invaluable expertise and partnership.

  1. Many frameworks define disinformation as knowingly false content meant to deceive. Given the difficulty of assessing the intent of information sharing for CV-19, we followed the Reuters Institute practice and used the term misinformation throughout this report to refer broadly to any type of false information – including disinformation - except when other terms are used in direct quotes or footnotes.

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