Activists placed this Tuesday body bags with the legend “misinformation kills” outside the offices of Facebook in Washington, DC, to encourage the platform to take more measures against the viralization of fake news about vaccines and Covid-19.
The event was organized by a group called Real Facebook Oversight Board, a coalition of academics, experts and civil rights leaders that emerged to respond to concerns about Facebook and the US presidential election.
Last week, President Joe Biden had said that Facebook is “killing people” with false information about the coronavirus, but later clarified that he was referring to the disseminators of disinformation on the platform.
In a statement sent to the press, a Facebook spokesperson assured that the social network “permanently bans pages, groups, and accounts that repeatedly violate COVID misinformation rules“, including more than a dozen pages, groups, and accounts of individuals identified in a recent report on anti-vaccine content broadcasters.
The action was organized by a group of academics, experts and civil rights leaders called the Real Facebook Oversight Board. Photo: AP
Wednesday’s protest action was accompanied by the group’s “Facebook Quarterly Damage Report” for the second quarter, which issued two main demands: that Facebook disable the participation of posts on “proven disinformation super spreaders” and that the platform “Improve quality news by changing the priority of sources in algorithm news.”
Facebook previously prioritized authoritative news sources such as NPR, CNN and The New York Times after the 2020 U.S. elections, but later reversed the change, The New York Times reported.
Against fake news
Event photos show two rows of body bags placed in front of the Facebook office in the American capital and protesters holding signs with a Facebook logo and the words “misinformation kills.”
The protest and the publication of the “Facebook’s Quarterly Damage Report” coincide with the Facebook’s second quarter earnings call, which will take place on Wednesday afternoon.
“Disinformation kills”, the slogan of the protest. Photo: Reuters
The report found that more than 83% of the number one posts on Facebook in the second quarter, citing CrowdTangle data compiled by New York Times reporter Kevin Roose, on the Twitter account, Facebook’s Top 10, were originated from “Five Known Disinformation Super Spreads”, including Ben Shapiro and Sean Hannity.
Facebook said in a statement that removed more than 18 million pieces of content on Facebook and Instagram that violate its policy on COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation. It also said it tagged and reduced the visibility of more than 167 million pieces of COVID-19 content that have been discredited by fact-checkers.
The social network defended itself. Photo: Reuters
Days ago, after the controversy over Biden’s statements, Facebook rejected the criticism and said that it works to save lives. “We will not be distracted by accusations that are not supported by fact.”explained the social network.
More than 2 billion people accessed authoritative information about COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook, which is far more than any other website, the social network said.