The research titled "global health misinformation spreading networks" discovered that Facebook had generated roughly 3.8 billion views for their content. The peak of this misinformation occurred in April.

Facebook is a major threat to public health, says report

“This info-demic will make the pandemic worse unless Facebook detoxifies its algorithm and provides corrections to everyone exposed to these viral lies.”

DURBAN – According to a report published by the nonprofit organisation an activist group Avaaz, Facebook is “a major threat to public health”.

The research titled “global health misinformation spreading networks” discovered that Facebook had generated roughly 3.8 billion views for their content. The peak of this misinformation occurred in April when an estimated 460 million Facebook views were logged.

Avaaz campaign director Fadi Quran said: “Facebook’s algorithm is a major threat to public health. Mark Zuckerberg promised to provide reliable information during the pandemic. This info-demic will make the pandemic worse unless Facebook detoxifies its algorithm and provides corrections to everyone exposed to these viral lies.”

The type of content the research highlighted includes:

  • 8.4 million views for an article claiming Bill Gates backed a polio vaccination that led to the paralysis of half a million children in India
  • 4.5 million views for an article containing bogus cures for deadly diseases, such as colloidal silver for Ebola
  • 2.4 million views for an article claiming quarantine harmed public health

According to a BBC report, Facebook said: “We share Avaaz’s goal of limiting misinformation. Thanks to our global network of fact-checkers, from April to June, we applied warning labels to 98 million pieces of Covid-19 misinformation and removed seven million pieces of content that could lead to imminent harm.”

“We’ve directed over two billion people to resources from health authorities and when someone tries to share a link about Covid-19, we show them a pop-up to connect them with credible health information,” read the company statement.

Last year Facebook was fined after its falsified video data undermined a number of legitimate news outlets, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was widely criticized for deciding not to remove political ads that spread blatant misinformation. 

 

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