Facebook has long struggled to stop the spread of spam and misinformation on its platform, but the problem has never been more obvious than during the COVID-19 pandemic. The social media giant has repeatedly instituted rules to prevent false information about the virus — and the vaccinations that could stop it. However, according to a report this week from FiveThirtyEight, these potentially dangerous lies are still spreading on the site anyway.
According to experts, Facebook and other social media platforms have experienced a “data deficit” about COVID-19, meaning that demand for information is high and the amount of credible information is low. And when that happens, this void is all too often filled by misinformation. And though Facebook has been cracking down on this content, it can’t possibly stop all of it.
“You can do these takedowns but that hasn’t necessarily stopped the flow of misinformation, and we can’t forget about the long tail of misinformation,” nonprofit research manager Rory Smith told FiveThirtyEight. “There are all of these hundreds of thousands or millions of posts that might not get that many interactions but collectively make up a lot of misinformation.”
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Facebook is struggling to contain this problem. However, the company must step up its enforcement efforts and stop this potentially dangerous content from expanding even further.
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