Silicon Valley Firms Working Together on Coronavirus Response

Major tech companies unite behind a single message

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On Monday evening, some of the largest technology firms in Silicon Valley issued a joint statement indicating they are working together on a response effort to the coronavirus pandemic.

Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Reddit, Twitter and YouTube put their names on this statement:

“We are working closely together on COVID-19 response efforts. We’re helping millions of people stay connected while also jointly combating fraud and misinformation about the virus, elevating authoritative content on our platforms, and sharing critical updates in coordination with government healthcare agencies around the world. We invite other companies to join us as we work to keep our communities healthy and safe.”

Many of these companies have struggled with misinformation spreading on their respective platforms and have tried to take a more active role in combatting the coronavirus crisis that has afflicted the world in recent weeks. Earlier this month, the platforms had begun honing their content moderation tools, both human and algorithms, to help blunt the spread of misinformation.

It’s unclear how these companies are going to work together, but the move comes at a time when they are straining to keep misinformation off their platforms and promote reliable data and advice from credible news, intergovernmental and nonprofit organizations.

Notably absent from the joint statement are platforms including Snapchat, TikTok, Tumblr and Pinterest. As one of tech’s biggest players, Amazon’s absence is notable as well.

Adweek has reached out to each of these companies to ask if they were invited to participate or are planning to join in the effort.  Spokespeople for Snapchat and Pinterest have confirmed their respective companies were not invited to participate, but each declined to comment on whether or not they would consider joining.

The statement comes on the heels of a busy couple of days for the platforms, especially Google. At a press conference on Friday, President Trump announced a Google initiative to help people figure out if they need a coronavirus test and where to find them. This caught the tech giant off guard, as reports have indicated the company wasn’t planning this functionality.

Google took to Twitter later that evening, saying, “We are developing a tool to help triage individuals for COVID-19 testing. Verily is in the early stages of development, and planning to roll testing out in the Bay Area with the hope of expanding more broadly over time.” Verily is a sister company of Google, both under the Alphabet umbrella.

On Monday, Verily rolled out in two California counties amid several hiccups, according to The New York Times.

@ScottNover Scott Nover is a platforms reporter at Adweek, covering social media companies and their influence.