The hottest hyperlink considered on Facebook earlier this yr was an article that prompt a Florida physician might have died from a coronavirus vaccine, in accordance with a brand new report from the social media large amid rising considerations that Facebook is enabling the unfold of COVID-19 misinformation.
The article, which amassed greater than 53.eight million views between Jan. 1 and March 31, prompt that the physician’s dying was “possibly the nation’s first death linked to the vaccine.”
The article initially appeared within the South Florida Sun Sentinel in January, and was extensively shared by the Chicago Tribune on Facebook. The story was later up to date after the vaccine’s function within the 56-year-old man’s dying was dominated inconclusive by a medical expert.
The article’s large reputation was revealed in a first-quarter “Content Transparency Report” that was shared publicly on Saturday by Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone, after The New York Times reported that the doc had been quietly shelved over considerations that it will make the corporate look unhealthy.
Earlier within the week, Facebook launched a separate set of findings, “Widely Viewed Content Report: What People See on Facebook,” that coated content material from April 1 to June 30. This report, which listed much more innocent content material on the prime of its reputation lists, had been labeled as a first-quarter report, in accordance with the Times, however now says “Q2 2021” on the prime.
Stone shared a hyperlink to an “internal copy” of the beforehand undisclosed “Content Transparency Report” on Twitter. He mentioned this report’s findings hadn’t been launched sooner as a result of “there were key fixes to the system we wanted to make.”
“We’re guilty of cleaning up our house a bit before we invited company. We’ve been criticized for that; and again, that’s not unfair,” Stone tweeted on Saturday. He didn’t go into element in regards to the “fixes” that allegedly led to the report being withheld. A consultant for Facebook didn’t instantly reply to HuffPost’s request for remark Sunday.
When Facebook revealed its “Widely Viewed Content Report” final week, it mentioned it was doing so as a result of “transparency is an important part of everything we do at Facebook.”
“Our goal is to provide clarity around what people see in their Facebook News Feed, the different content types that appear in their Feed and the most-viewed domains, links, Pages and posts on the platform during the quarter,” the corporate mentioned.
There stays skepticism in regards to the accuracy of the general public knowledge, nonetheless, together with from former Facebook staff.
“You can’t trust a report that is curated by a company and designed to combat a press narrative rather than real meaningful transparency,” Brian Boland, a former vice chairman of product advertising and marketing at Facebook, informed the Times. “It’s up to regulators and government officials to bring us that transparency.”
Another former Facebook worker, talking anonymously to The Washington Post as a result of a nondisparagement clause, likened the corporate’s report back to “ExxonMobil releasing their own study on climate change.”
You can’t belief a report that’s curated by an organization and designed to fight a press narrative somewhat than actual significant transparency.
Brian Boland, former vice chairman of product advertising and marketing at Facebook
“It’s something to counter the independent research and media coverage that tells a different story,” the previous worker mentioned.
There have been rising considerations in regards to the unfold of vaccine misinformation on social media platforms, with President Joe Biden final month going as far as to say that social media corporations are “killing people.”
“We’re dealing with a life-or-death issue here, and so everybody has a role to play in making sure there’s accurate information,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki mentioned of Facebook in July. “They’re a private-sector company. They’re going to make decisions about additional steps they can take. It’s clear there are more that can be taken.”
Facebook has repeatedly pledged to take extra motion in opposition to anti-vaccine info, however critics and skeptics have mentioned the corporate’s efforts don’t go far sufficient, and have known as for unbiased entry to person exercise knowledge.
“It’s defensible on the part of Facebook that they want to protect the data of an everyday person,” Rachel Moran, a researcher learning COVID-19 social media misinformation on the University of Washington, informed Recode. “But in trying to understand actually how much misinformation is on Facebook, and how it’s being interacted with on a daily basis, we need to know more.”
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, whose workplace has described well being misinformation as a menace to the nation’s COVID-19 response, has additionally warned of a vital lack of knowledge from social media corporations.
“The data gap means we are flying blind,” Murthy informed Recode earlier this month. “We don’t know the extent of the problem. We don’t know what’s working to solve the problem. We don’t know who’s most impacted by the problem.”
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