Facebook has come under intense criticism in recent weeks for allowing anti-vax and COVID-19 misinformation to spread on its platform. In response, the social media giant has trumpeted its success connecting users to accurate info and removing groups that spread misinformation. However, according to a new report from NBC News, it’s shockingly easy for these groups to change their tactics and avoid detection.
Many anti-vax accounts have begun to use code words to hide their activity, using euphemisms like “dance party” or “dinner party” to describe themselves. Many of these group admins also advise users to stay away from “unapproved words” while directing them to code legends that help them encrypt and decode their messages.
“Vaccine activists have been participating in leetspeak for as long as the internet has been around,” Joan Donovan, a research director at Harvard, told NBC News. “This is part of the culture of anti-vaccination activists… There’s a network effect there where people are imagining themselves as being persecuted and having access to some secret knowledge.”
It shouldn’t be surprising that these groups are trying everything they can to skirt Facebook’s enforcement rules. The fact that Facebook can’t keep up with them is just another reason so many are frustrated with the company’s efforts at blocking bad content.
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