Google Updates Its Coronavirus Efforts Both Inside and Outside of the Company

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Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai detailed the company’s efforts to deal with the coronavirus in a blog post Friday, based on an email he sent to employees earlier in the day.

The company established a 24-hour incident-response team to stay in sync with the World Health Organization, and Pichai said leadership is meeting daily to make critical decisions about its offices worldwide.

He added that some of Google’s offices are now on a work-from-home status, while others are operating normally, and hourly service vendors affected by reduced work schedules are being paid for the time they would have worked.

Google

On the consumer-facing side, people are coming to Google’s search engine for information on vaccines, travel advisories and prevention tips, with Pichai noting that queries for “coronavirus cleaning advice” spiked by over 1,700% in the U.S. during the past week.

The SOS Alert in Google Search is connecting people to news, safety tips and links to more authoritative information from the WHO.

Google

Pichai said Google is working to expand its Knowledge Panels for health conditions to include a Covid-19 panel for people specifically looking for information about symptoms, prevention or treatments.

The homepage on its YouTube video site is also directing users to the WHO and other locally relevant authoritative organizations, and ad inventory on YouTube is being donated to governments and nongovernmental organizations in impacted regions for educational and informational purposes.

Reliable local information is being surfaced via Google Maps.

Pichai said the company’s trust and safety team has been working “around the clock and across the globe” to protect users from phishing, conspiracy theories, malware and misinformation.

Videos on YouTube that claim to prevent the coronavirus and dissuade viewers from seeking medical treatment are being removed.

Tens of thousands of ads have been blocked on Google Ads over the past six weeks for capitalizing on the coronavirus, and the company is helping the WHO and government organizations run public-service announcements.

The Google Play store has policies in place to ban application developers from capitalizing on sensitive events and to prohibit apps that feature misleading and potentially harmful medical or health-related content.

Google is providing $25 million in donated ad credit to the WHO and government agencies, which it will increase if necessary.

Google.org and employees have donated over $1 million to relief efforts, earmarked for organizations purchasing medical supplies, providing food and lodging for frontline workers, building temporary hospitals and other long-term recovery efforts.

And Google Cloud is working with federal, state and local governments to help them connect with citizens and travelers returning from impacted regions.

Pichai wrote to employees, “This is an unprecedented moment. It’s important that we approach it with a sense of calm and responsibility—because we have many people counting on us.”

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