Facebook has introduced several policies to combat misinformation, fake ads and other kinds of harmful content related to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, a few prominent U.S. senators have expressed concerns that the social media giant is only addressing these issues for English language users.
According to activist organization Avaaz, Facebook has identified less fake COVID-19 news in other languages than it has in English. For example, the organization conducted a study that found that Facebook had not placed warning labels on 68% of misleading Italian language content and 70% of Spanish language content. Meanwhile, the company missed only 29% of English language content. That’s what led senators Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts to write a letter to Facebook demanding the company explain what it’s doing to address this problem.
“This is a significant gap exposing non-English speakers to the perils of misinformation and disinformation,” the senators wrote. “Making sure that people, especially our most vulnerable communities, in the United States and around the world receive the most accurate information about how to prevent and protect themselves from COVID-19 is not only a moral imperative, it’s the only way we can beat this virus together.”
Facebook has enough trouble as it is regulating spam and offensive content in English. The fact that it’s even worse at addressing those issues in other languages isn’t surprising, but it is troubling. Hopefully these lawmakers can compel the company to get its act together.
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