Fake news is one of the biggest problems being faced by most social media channels, and Facebook’s one of the biggest victims. They decided to dive into it and find out the main culprits and discovered that a small group of users actually drive the discussions that create doubt and confusion, especially regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.
Facebook had banned misleading and false ads about the vaccines back in October, and this was weeks before the initial ones were even available. They also announced the removal of any false claims regarding the vaccine and notified users if they ever encountered an article or post that contained false information.
They have also taken a stricter route towards promoting information that is authoritative. However, the research as mentioned by the Washington Post seems to have more of a gray area. That is for example if a user mentions that the symptoms after receiving a vaccine are worse than they thought, comments can be used to understand the overall impact. However, it could also make other users nervous and wary.
Studies confirm Facebook fears:
The study also confirms what many Facebook users have known for long: the existence of an echo chamber of sorts that spreads all kinds of misinformation. Content that creates this effect may bypass Facebook’s rules but they can have a largely negative effect to unbeknownst users.
Researchers on the platform also figured out that there was an overlap between the users who were connected to QAnon conspiracy theories – which Facebook has banned from the platform – and user communities who kind of expressed their own skepticism about these vaccines.
Facebook partners with health experts:
A spokesperson for Facebook, Dani Lever explained in an email to The Verge that they have joined hands with more than 60 experts and have extensively studied COVID-19 related vaccine content and other information. It states that Facebook studies trends that could be a part of certain conversations on the platform, such as bias, hate speech, voting as well as nudity so their products can be continually evaluated and refined.
“Public health experts have made it clear that tackling vaccine hesitancy is a top priority in the COVID response, which is why we’ve launched a global campaign that has already connected 2 billion people to reliable information from health experts and remove false claims about COVID and vaccines,” Lever said.