An alarming new report is here to suggest that misinformation is still rampant on Facebook. Researchers at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) have found that a Facebook page titled “World Doctors’ Alliance, which happens to feature a number of current and former medical experts and academics from as many as seven nations, has garnered a massive engagement in merely months, mainly by putting out false claims that COVID-19 is actually a hoax, and that vaccines are dangerous. The page had amassed over 617,000 interactions as of June 2021, seeing a growth of a whopping 142 percent in six months.
This comes even as Facebook is repeatedly being called out for failing to take responsibility for the claims made by its users.
False, Misleading, or Conspiratorial
Reportedly, 74 percent of the top 50 posts in English on World Doctors’ Alliance’s page, have been found to contain information that is either “false, misleading or conspiratorial,” as per Facebook’s own policies, or contraindicate the directives issued by public health authorities. This was also found to be the case for 82 percent of the top posts in Arabic, 88 percent of those in Spanish, and 48 percent of those in German.
The Big Tobacco Moment
The Guardian has since cited a statement made by the chief exec at the Center for Countering Digital Hate, Imran Ahmed, regarding the matter, wherein he asserts that Facebook’s measures towards controlling the “epidemic of misleading information” doing the rounds on its platforms, stands to be nothing more than “performative PR exercises.”
He has added that the research by the ISD depicts how the firm has repeatedly fallen short of preventing misinformation from spreading. Calling the results of such research as “revelations” about how Facebook always fails to act, he further mentions that we are moving towards towards the “big tobacco moment” of social media, when social networks will be forced to take “responsibility” for the dangers and harms that their products can cause.
Real Actions or Empty Words?
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Facebook has come forward to say that World Doctors’ Alliance’s parent group, World Freedom Alliance, had already been removed in July, along with as many as 200 million posts pertaining to misinformation related to the COVID crisis. The spokesperson has further added that ever since the pandemic came into being, the company’s goal has been to promote only reliable information regarding COVID, while taking strict measures to tackle misinformation.
Source: The Hill