Middle East

‘Corona Question and Answer’: Sky News Arabia, Facebook battle COVID-19 misinformation

Sky News Arabia (SNA) has launched a new interactive news show on Facebook live dedicated to examining the facts surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, amid widespread misinformation about the illness online.

Launched as part of a partnership between Sky News Arabia and social media giant Facebook, the show allows audiences to submit questions about the coronavirus on Sky News Arabia’s Facebook and Instagram live streams.

Expert guests then address the questions with accurate, fact-based information in real-time.

“Corona Question and Answer” aired its first hour-long episode this week and is scheduled daily at 7 pm UAE time/3 pm GMT.

“With the wealth of misleading rumors and fake news that continues to circulate, Sky News Arabia felt compelled to bring its audiences a transparent, fact checked program that centers on today’s most important topic, the Coronavirus,” News Director at Sky News Arabia Youssef Tsouri commented.

‘Corona Question and Answer’ is Sky News Arabia’s second program to be live streamed on Facebook.

“As the COVID-19 outbreak escalates, we’re focused on making sure everyone can access credible and accurate information through our platforms,” said Mohamed Omar, News Partnerships Manager, Middle East and North Africa at Facebook.

He went on to say that Facebook is working closely with news channels across the Middle East “to ensure they’re using the power of our platforms to connect with people, understand their biggest concerns, and share timely, relevant and accurate information to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Episodes of “Corona Question and Answer” will also feature a CrowdTangle “Live Display,” with real-time streams of COVID-19-related posts from public pages and accounts.

CrowdTangle is a tool used by publishers like Vox and BuzzFeed to keep track of how their content is shared on social media.

Facebook recently launched a CrowdTangle “Live Display Hub” of over 100 COVID-19 “Live Displays” showing posts about the coronavirus that are sorted by relevant keywords, including information from local media organizations, regional World Health Organization (WHO) pages, government agencies, and local politicians from more than 50 countries.

Facebook Live Displays are tracking ten countries in the MENA region: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, UAE, Lebanon and Iraq.

Meanwhile, the “Hope Feed,” which is unique to the Middle East, is customized to showcase real-time streams of positive news and posts on Facebook related to the coronavirus.

Followers of the Corona Question and Answer show can also post their question on the Instagram and Facebook group called ‘Facebook COVID-19 Group,’ as well as via Sky News Arabia’s coronavirus Facebook group (SNACovid19).

Over 400,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed worldwide, with upwards of 18,000 people having died from complications of the respiratory illness.

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