How Taboola is Working to Prevent The Spread of COVID-19 Misinformation and Support Quality Journalism

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I wanted to share my thoughts about the current situation, and what we’re doing as a company.

Before I start I want to emphasize that everyone’s first obligation at this time is to their families and loved ones. I urge you to keep yourselves healthy and please take care of your elderly family members and any family members with health issues that leave them susceptible.

Internally, our leadership has met daily to discuss COVID-19, in an effort to react best in response to what’s happening across the globe, as well as to make the right proactive steps going forward. This is not easy because it feels like every day we wake up to a new reality, and it’s unclear how exactly this situation will evolve.

Every meeting I’ve had over the past few weeks starts and ends with COVID-19. Everybody cares—our advertisers, agencies, publishers, reporters, mobile carriers, OEMs, investors, our board of directors—everybody.

As part of this global pandemic, Taboola has a responsibility to our industry, to the open web, and to readers worldwide. We will work hard to ensure journalism stays strong, and readers, at the heart of this pandemic, stay informed with quality, trusted sources of information—especially in these uncertain times, as we globally battle COVID-19—we will fight the spread of misinformation about the Coronavirus.

I’ve written before about times when we’ve made decisions to proactively block content items we thought were problematic. This is a major part of what our Content Review Team, now 50+ people strong, handles—the implementation of our continuously updated public policies that govern what we recommend on the open web.

COVID-19 Ad Policy: Only Official Authorities Allowed, Well-Known Publishers Only, No Gas Masks, and More

While Taboola does not create the content on our network itself, we invest greatly in detecting and removing misleading ads; as I write this blog, I’m calling our head of policy who tells me that since last Thursday evening we’ve rejected 445 requests to promote facemasks and coronavirus related campaigns that don’t meet our policy. To fight the spread of misinformation about this global pandemic, we’ve updated our ads policy to the following:

No Facemasks Allowed:

We’ve specifically prohibited facemasks as we’ve seen those ads causing shortages where needed, exploiting panic, exaggerating pricing and used as clickbait for cloaking, which we always work to prevent.

No False Claims:

  • Ads may not make personal or public health claims, such as implying that a product can cure, treat or prevent the Coronavirus.
  • Ads may not refer to the Coronavirus and create a sense of urgency, such as implying a limited supply of any product.
  • Ads may not use the images or illustrations of Coronavirus.
  • Ads may not use the Coronavirus in headlines without context to the landing page

Coronavirus Ads are Only Permitted From Official Authorities:

By only allowing information from trusted sources and preventing the spread of advertisements making false claims about this crisis, we hope to not only limit misinformation about the pandemic but support the spread of quality journalism.

  • Official health organizations (government and NGOs), such as the WHO, CDC etc.
  • Official authorities like the Ministry of Health, city municipalities, police departments, health authorities, etc.
  • Health Care institutions like hospitals, medical facilities, etc.
  • Promoted articles by well-known publishers and news sources, like Reuters, NYT, etc.

We’re Only Re-Circulating Articles From Well-Known Publishers in Support of Quality Journalism and Accurate Information

Not only do we want to prevent information that’s wrong, misleading, or downright malicious, we want to bring quality journalism to people across the globe.

In the last 30 days, we’ve recirculated thousands of articles related to the Coronavirus from our premium publisher partners, helping millions of readers find articles like these with information from credible sources:

We’re also reaching out to publishers and offering them free access to our insights, so they can see what people are reading on the open web as a part of our product Taboola Newsroom, and encouraging them to use that data to help their users be better informed.

Now is the Time to Support Quality Journalism

In the last month, the word ‘Coronavirus’ became the second-most common word on block lists for news publishers, up from eighth-most common in January.

We aim to support the spread of accurate information about this pandemic.

Over the last 30 days, we’ve seen 71% of readers in the U.S. alone reading about the Coronavirus—you can support the spread of accurate information to people across the globe.

As we continue this fight against the spread of misinformation and the fight for quality journalism in support of the spread of accurate information, I invite you to email me directly at adam.singolda@taboola.com if you think you see something on our network that doesn’t belong there.

Please be safe, healthy and take good care of yourself.

–Adam

Founder & CEO Taboola

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