Facebook is failing to safeguard users from COVID-19 disinformation: Research

WION Web Team
NEW DELHIUpdated: Nov 02, 2021, 09:21 AM IST

File photo Photograph:(AFP)

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Over the last year, NewsGuard tracked 20 profiles and groups that accumulated over 370,000 followers.

Facebook is battling an onslaught of false news, hate speech, and provocative content, including "celebrations of violence," among other things.

According to research, misinformation and scepticism about COVID-19 and vaccinations have been permitted to propagate on more than a dozen Facebook and Instagram profiles, sites, and groups, which have accumulated 370,000 followers in the last year. 

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Posts in Facebook groups claiming that children are being "murdered by the experimental jab they're being pressured to take" and an Instagram account promoting a documentary by Andrew Wakefield, one of the key figures in promoting discredited links between MMR inoculation and autism, are among the misinformation and promotion of vaccine hesitancy. 

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NewsGuard, an organisation that monitors internet disinformation, has been tracking the 20 accounts, pages, and groups.

At the World Health Organization's request, NewsGuard has been submitting frequent alerts to the WHO since September last year, highlighting social media sites and other digital platforms that are propagating misleading information on COVID-19. 

The attorneys general of 14 US states issued a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in October, asking if the platform's top disseminators of vaccination misinformation deserved special treatment.

The investigation was sparked after Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen revealed that the social media giant has established a mechanism that exempts high-profile users from some or all of its regulations using internal papers. 

(With inputs from agencies)