Topline: Facebook will begin taking down any ads that promise a cure for the coronavirus, as the platform battles the rapid spread of conspiracy theories and fake cures—including drinking bleach to cure the disease—that have erupted in panic and confusion over the epidemic on social media.
- A Facebook spokesperson told Forbes it will remove ads for products “that refer to the coronavirus and create a sense of urgency, like implying a limited supply, or guaranteeing a cure or prevention.”
- The spokesperson added that, for example, “ads with claims like face masks that are 100% guaranteed to prevent the spread of the virus will not be allowed.”
- Health experts warn the spread of misinformation, fake cures and conspiracy theories about coronavirus can actively cause harm and undermine trust in government institutions. “We need a vaccine against misinformation,” said Mike Ryan, head of the WHO health emergencies program, in a meeting this month.
- A number of false cures have spread on Facebook in the past few months, including one claiming that drinking bleach can cure the virus, according to FactCheck.org.
- Facebook already said in January it will outright remove posts flagged by global health organizations and local health authorities with potentially harmful false cures or prevention methods for the coronavirus.
- But the company also said last month it won’t remove other false claims about the virus, opting instead to fact-check, demote them in the news feed and point users to reliable information from the World Health Organization.
Key background: Facebook has struggled to contain disinformation since the 2016 election and has faced criticism for not removing ads from politicians that contain lies. But misleading or untrue medical claims have been a particularly thorny issue for the platform. Facebook banned misleading ads about vaccines last year, but private Facebook groups have become hotbeds of medical misinformation, and some ads expressing skepticism about vaccines haven’t been taken down. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly said that Facebook shouldn’t be an arbiter of truth, and company policy is to be usually reluctant to remove posts and ads at all.
News peg: More than 81,000 people globally have been infected with the virus as of Wednesday, and more 2,700 have died. The World Health Organization hasn’t declared the virus a pandemic, but Europe, the Middle East and the U.S. are preparing for an outbreak as cases outside China continue to surge.
– Rachel Sandler, Forbes Staff , Breaking News
[IN NUMBERS] Coronavirus Update: COVID-19 In Africa
While most cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus have been reported in the U.S. , Europe, and China, the virus is spreading rapidly across the African continent.
The confirmed worldwide cases for the virus have surpassed 11 million with the current figure being at 11,586,780.
The increase in new reported cases around the world has led the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare the coronavirus a global pandemic.
The death toll continues to rise globally. It is currently at 537,372.
The U.S. leads with 131,485 deaths. Brazil is second with 61,990. The U.K is third with 43,995. Italy is fourth with 34,818, and France is fifth with 29,875.
China, where the virus originated from, maintains that the country’s death toll is at 4,634.
The figure of the global recoveries stands at 6,171,905.
The African continent has 480,518 cases of Covid-19, while the death toll stands at 11,403. The continent has made 230,202 recoveries.
Here are the numbers in Africa:
|Country||Confirmed Cases||Confirmed Deaths||Confirmed Recoveries|
|Cabo Verde (Cape Verde)||750||6||301|
|Central African Republic (CAR)||2,222||7||369|
|Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)||9,702||68||4,381|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)||7,189||176||2,317|
|Eswatini (formerly Swaziland)||490||4||249|
|Sao Tome and Principe||661||12||177|
Note: The numbers will be updated as new information is available.
Empty Roads, Occupied Minds
With a deadly virus still lurking in the streets and tougher times ahead, traders in South Africa’s colorful townships desperately look to resuscitate their businesses with creative offerings online.
It’s almost two months into lockdown in South Africa and the country’s townships, once bustling hubs of trade, are slowly bracing themselves, with every ounce of willpower left in them, for the unprecedented reality that is ‘the new normal’.
For many, the national shutdown and closed shutters have meant lost jobs, stalled incomes and empty pockets, not to mention a deadly virus stalking them in every street and alley. The small entrepreneurs here – the lifeblood of any economy – now on their last pennies, are still hopeful their re-evaluated strategies and revamped resilience will see them through this fearful nightmare, as the restrictions ease and the townships will slowly crawl back to life again.
Behind the respectful veneer of the lockdown, some of the smaller traders hustle on illegally, under the radar, dodging police patrols and armed surveillance. They have no choice but to stick to their street-smart ways, to survive and feed their families.
In the township of Soweto, bigger, popular establishments such as The Box Shop on Vilakazi Street – the historic stretch home to Nobel Peace Prize winners Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the country’s former President Nelson Mandela – are looking to the future with great uncertainty, and have been forced to devise alternative digital strategies as lifelines for the present.
Sifiso Moyo founded The Box Shop, a lifestyle and retail outlet with his business partner, Bernard Msimango, and today, the street it’s located on, which attracted thousands of local and international tourists every day prior to the pandemic, is eerily quiet.
It will be a while until planes of international visitors land again, so the duo have chosen to go to them – online.
“For The Box Shop, we built hype around online and have taken the entire offering that existed in our physical infrastructure into a digital platform and that has made us into an innovation space, giving us access to a global audience. We are beginning to see our products being sold in places like Switzerland and the United Kingdom and we now have started harnessing partnerships,” says Moyo.
The website was launched in May, but the bigger vision for the entity was to start as a retail outlet and work backwards into the manufacturing space.
Moyo says the coronavirus taught them two things – to adapt digitally, and to work in the value chain.
The shop now also makes face masks, sold to public hospitals and NGOs.
A short drive from Vilakazi Street is a restaurant named Sancho, selling African cuisine and founded by Thato Mothopeng, a serial entrepreneur who also founded the popular annual Soweto Camp Festival.
Mothopeng is one of the few entrepreneurs in the tourism sector without a formal degree or training, but has had a roaring business nevertheless and is quite well-known in the circuit.
Mothopeng says all SMMEs are at a standstill because business thrives on human contact. But business also needs to be flexible, he adds.
“There are opportunities in the harshest environments. I am using this time to review my strategies. I am also not panicking because the country is managing the crisis; this is an opportunity for SMMEs to reflect because our people are sober now.”
He had to let go of a few employees and is working remotely.
Further in the township of Soweto, Thembeka Nkosi, the founder of Le Salon, has also developed her own coping mechanisms.
Her shop is shut, but people still seek her grooming advice. As per South Africa’s Level 4 lockdown restrictions, salons and beauty parlors are not allowed to operate.
“This [lockdown] is very stressful, more especially now because other businesses are operating. I still can’t make money, I still have to stay at home and not work,” rues Nkosi.
In addition to getting to spend more time with her five-year-old son, she has recently started sharing her haircare tutorials on social media.
“Now that shops are open to buy hair products, I send video clips to my clients and that brings me joy, knowing that I am still useful to them; even though it’s not making me any money yet, at least I am interacting with my clients,” she says, looking at the bright side.
Ronewa Creations is yet another small business in these parts.
Founded by Lesego Seloane and Dinah Kgeledi, the business offers landscaping services, garden maintenance and water harvesting solutions, and employs seven full-time workers. None of these services are allowed in the current phase of lockdown.
“Now that our province is still on Level 4, it is really difficult to focus because when we were working out our plans, there was so much uncertainty and we didn’t know how they could actually be implemented,” says Seloane.
She is grateful the duo have been active on social media, running a garden makeover campaign and offering landscaping designs for free.
“We are using a three-dimensional technology that revamps the look of gardens to give people an idea of how their gardens could potentially look like in the end.”
Despite the challenges, the two keep sane by spending time with family.
“If the business fails, I fail. If I don’t come out of my down moment quick, then I will fail and the entire organization fails,” says Seloane.
You can detect the determination in her voice to overcome this period, come what may.
Like many around her staring fear in the face, she has no other choice.
This Single Factor Could Force Another Coronavirus Shutdown, Goldman Sachs Says
With new coronavirus cases rising in 26 states, according to data from Johns Hopkins, and the national conversation turning to whether those states rushed to reopen their economies too quickly, new analysis from Goldman Sachs suggests that in the coming weeks, hospital capacity (rather than case numbers) is the factor most likely to prompt another lockdown.
- Goldman’s experts say hospital data is a more reliable picture of the spread of the virus nationwide than positive test results, which fluctuate with changes in testing trends.
- The analysts noted, however, that “there is probably a high hurdle for states to reinstate lockdowns.”
- As new cases continue to rise across the country, Goldman’s analysts also tracked which states currently meet federal reopening criteria based on four factors: symptoms, cases, testing and hospitalizations and fatalities.
- Only Arizona and Alabama fail in all four categories, the analysts say; symptoms and cases are on the rise, positive test rates are high, and hospitals are nearing their maximum capacities.
- On the other hand, 19 states meet all four criteria for reopening, including several former hot spots like New York and New Jersey, and the vast majority of states meet at least three out of the four criteria.
Along with Alabama and Arizona, California, Texas, and Florida have also seen sharp upticks in infections in recent days. Florida reported a record increase in new cases on four out of the six days between June 15 and 20, for instance. The number of confirmed cases since the pandemic started has now swelled to over 100,000, and Gov. Ron DeSantis said the uptick is “clearly” the result of a failure to follow social distancing guidelines. With cases on the rise, some places—like Arizona—are forging ahead with reopening plans while others—in Maine, Oregon, and Kansas, for instance—are tightening up restrictions again.
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