The COVID-19 pandemic sparked news meticulous examination social media response to the anti-vaccine movement. But even in the face of criticism from White House, a new report claims Facebook is still failing to remove even the most inflammatory misinformation. As recently as last week, posts with the hashtag #VaccinesKill were still active on the social network, according to CNN.
It wasn’t until the news post warned the company of the failure that it blocked the posts behind a message saying that Facebook is “keeping our community safe.” To make matters worse, the same hashtag was banned by Facebook Instagram almost two years ago. This action followed Facebook’s commitment to crack down on vaccine falsehoods, including false claims that they cause autism and other illnesses, amid a measles outbreak in New York City.
This time the threat is even greater. As the world remains in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic and cases of the Delta virus increase in the United States, Facebook’s latest mistake will only attract further concern from policymakers. Just days ago, President Biden lambasted the company and other social networks by suggesting their failures were weakening the vaccination campaign. “They’re killing people,” Biden said.
In its defense, Facebook previously noted that it was withdrawing more false anti-vaccine information than ever before. In October he prohibited ads encourage people to avoid getting vaccinated, followed by a wider tightening on anti-vaccine claims.
The company said CNN that he has not taken action against the #VaccinesKill hashtag in the past because it has not reached its threshold. Facebook explained that it determines whether a hashtag violates its policies by looking at many factors, including the type and distribution of the content in which it appears. “Now the #vaccineskill hashtag on Facebook violates our policies against disinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines and we have blocked it from research,” the spokesperson said.
At the same time, users are finding new ways to bypass the social network’s disinformation rules. In May, some people started arming Facebook custom profile frames to post false vaccine claims, forcing him to withdraw them.
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