Facebook is one of the most influential social media platforms across the bandwidth and this power and userbase give it the responsibility to slow down, if not stop, the spread of COVID-19 related misinformation. We know by now that the company is actively taking a keen interest in stopping the disinformation campaigns by blocking accounts on both Facebook and Instagram, issuing warnings on comments, and whatnot. However, the United States government still thinks that social media isn’t doing enough to stop the spread of the COVID-19 related misinformation.
Having said that, Facebook has recently caught and banned a media marketing agency that was allegedly paying influencers to speak ill about the COVID-19 vaccines and spread false claims on the use of vaccines. This obviously goes against the company’s strict disinformation norms and policies and as a consequence of violation, Facebook has banned the marketing firm from the platform.
According to statistics, till now, the social media conglomerate has removed over 65 Facebook accounts and 243 Instagram accounts, as mentioned in a report by Engadget. Other than this, there are multiple groups that the company has removed that were allegedly in violation of similar norms.
According to what Facebook has confirmed, the marketing firm allegedly paid influencers on Facebook and Instagram to boost their message of anti-vaccine. The network reportedly originated in Russia but was linked to a subsidiary in the UK- “Fazze”. This company was a UK-registered marketing firm that operates from Russia, according to a report by Engadget, and hit social media against COVID-19 vaccine misinformation in two waves, says Facebook.
The report claims that the first wave came in November and December last year and the second wave hit in May 2021. The first one was the anti-AstaZenica COVID-19 vaccine and the second one was targeting Pfizer vaccine. Both of these vaccines are regulated and approved by the government and are in no way harmful with high efficacy rates to protect against the coronavirus.
Facebook’s Ben Nimmo, Global Threat Intelligence Lead for Influence Operations, says that the campaign was sloppy and not as effective as they wanted it to be, with an exception of the said marketing agency.
The government is blaming social media companies for not controlling the spread of COVID-19 misinformation and it has become a real pain-in-the-butt for Facebook, having to manage Instagram, WhatsApp, and the main application. The government says that Facebook and other social media giants are not doing enough to control the spread of vaccine disinformation.