Facebook failing to protect users from Covid misinformation, says monitor | Facebook

Linda Rider

Misinformation and sceptical views about Covid-19 and vaccines has been permitted to unfold on a lot more than a dozen Fb and Instagram accounts, webpages and groups that alongside one another have obtained 370,000 followers over the earlier yr, in accordance to a report.

The misinformation and advertising of vaccine hesitancy features posts in Facebook teams proclaiming that little ones are remaining “murdered by the experimental jab they’re currently being pressured to take”, and an Instagram account advertising and marketing a documentary by Andrew Wakefield, a single of the key figures in endorsing discredited links involving MMR inoculation and autism.

The 20 accounts, internet pages and groups have been tracked by NewsGuard, an organisation that monitors on the net misinformation. Due to the fact September past calendar year NewsGuard has submitted normal studies to the World Health Organization, at the WHO’s request, flagging social media web-sites and other digital platforms that are spreading falsehoods about Covid-19.

In investigation revealed on Tuesday, NewsGuard stated 20 of the web-sites that it experienced monitored above that interval experienced gained a complete of 372,670 followers. A whole report containing the investigate has been sent to the WHO.

The NewsGuard exploration points to distinguished resources of vaccine scepticism this sort of as the Fb web pages of Robert F Kennedy Jr, a popular anti-vaxxer, and Joseph Mercola, an substitute medicine health practitioner, as nicely as more compact resources this sort of as the France Soir account on Instagram.

Kennedy was banned from Instagram above his vaccine stance in February but his Fb site and Mercola’s Instagram account have attained additional than 140,000 followers due to the fact February, in accordance to NewsGuard. Mercola has mentioned he has “every right to inform the general public by sharing my medical research”.

Facebook came less than tension to ban Kennedy, the nephew of President John F Kennedy, in March when he released a documentary, Professional medical Racism, which has been accused of trying to get to boost vaccine hesitancy between black People in america. Kennedy has explained the movie “empowers all Individuals to need the most secure vaccines”.

Fb and Instagram are both of those owned by Meta, the business that right up until a rebranding very last 7 days was regarded as Fb.

Alex Cardier, the British isles handling director for NewsGuard, said Facebook and Instagram were failing to defend their users from Covid-19 and vaccine misinformation irrespective of owning been warned “repeatedly”.

He mentioned: “The company’s engagement-at-all-fees mantra indicates that viral and divisive resources of misinformation keep on to flourish, irrespective of warnings from NewsGuard and the apparent threat posed to users. Facebook gave alone a new identify but their marketing of misinformation remains the exact.”

A Meta spokesperson claimed the company was encouraging customers of its platforms to get vaccinated and it was getting action towards misinformation. “During the pandemic we have eradicated far more than 20m items of hazardous misinformation and we’ve taken down content discovered in this report which violates our guidelines. In total we’ve now banned much more than 3,000 accounts, webpages and groups for consistently breaking our procedures. We’re also labelling all posts about the vaccines with correct info and worked with unbiased factcheckers to mark 190m posts as bogus.”

In an effort to reassure consumers on the efficacy of vaccines, several of the Facebook web pages highlighted by NewsGuard contained Fb labels directing users to a WHO website page on vaccines or the company’s own Covid-19 details centre page.

Meta declared past 7 days that was stepping up efforts to market vaccination initiatives for kids on its applications.

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