Facebook has struggled to contain the spread of misinformation on its platform, and misleading content about the coronavirus is certainly no exception. According to a report released this week by nonprofit advocacy group Avaaz, health misinformation has been viewed 3.8 billion times in the past year, while only 16 percent of this content received a warning label from Facebook.
In a statement, Facebook said that it broadly agrees with Avaaz’s mission, though it protested that the group’s findings “don’t reflect the steps we’ve taken to keep it from spreading on our services.” However, Avaaz campaign director Fadi Quran couldn’t disagree more.
“Facebook’s algorithm is a major threat to public health,” Quran said. “Mark Zuckerberg promised to provide reliable information during the pandemic, but his algorithm is sabotaging those efforts by driving many of Facebook’s 2.7 billion users to health misinformation spreading networks.”
While Facebook has made some progress in slowing the spread of harmful content, it’s also true that the top 10 health misinformation providers had four times as many views as official sources like the World Health Organization. As long as Facebook’s business model incentivizes drama and clicks, this kind of content will pose a problem.
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