Extra Than 200 Fb Teams Have Been Actively Circulating Coronavirus Vaccine Misinformation
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After President Biden reacted harshly on Facebook last week for misinformation about coronavirus vaccines, the company responded with almost equal force, insisting unequivocally that it was not responsible for how this type of content spread across the internet.
But new research released Tuesday suggests Facebook actually remains a place where such misinformation circulates: Media Matters for America, a liberal tech watchdog organization, says it has found 284 active private and public Facebook groups , who are currently spreading vaccine misinformation, more than twice as much, the researchers found in April. Over half a million users belong to these groups.
Facebook was unavailable to comment immediately on the results of Media Matters.
Media Matters identified six groups with more than 15,000 members, and most of those half-dozen groups are private, highlighting an ongoing problem for the social network. These groups are by invitation only, which makes them more difficult to follow up and creates more fertile ground for the spread of misinformation than public ones, which invite more immediate scrutiny.
Discussion about Facebook’s role in handling vaccine misinformation escalated on Friday when President Biden made sharp comments about his views on the company’s guilt. “They kill people,” he said.
The White House has since tried to soften its stance on the matter, and Facebook has gone out of its way to point out efforts to combat misinformation about vaccines. In a blog post published the day after President Biden’s comments, Facebook’s vice president of integrity Guy Rosen said the platform had removed more than 18 million Covid-19 pieces of information and limited the distribution of 167 million parts since the pandemic began Checker judged to be inaccurate. In general, Facebook has introduced new tools for users to control groups, although these features are only as effective as the group leaders would like them to be.
Groups represent a tremendous growth path for Facebook – and an endless source of problems for Facebook. Over the past few years, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has clearly emphasized the place of Groups within the app, and the company introduced a redesign in 2019 to encourage their use. Even public groups tend to encourage more intimate and engaging conversations than Facebook’s core news feed, which is exactly what the company was trying to promote. But groups have proven to be problematic breeding grounds that are used to spread things like Qanon content and white supremacy posts.
The largest group identified by Media Matters is one called “Canadian Deaths and Adverse Reaction,” which has nearly 95,000 users. The researchers found a number of posts containing conspiracy theories, including one falsely claiming the vaccines were part of a classified ongoing experimental study. A user in another large group, Covid19 Vaccine Victims & Families, which has 46,4000 members, wrote this: “I really think they wanted to kill people with this shot … they did [sic] make it worse and those who do not have any health problems. I think this prick also gives people diseases they never had. People have to wake up and say no to the jab. “