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Up to 84% of Facebook posts with medical misinformation do not have ‘false content’ warning labels

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Facebook ‘is a threat to public health’: Up to 84% of posts peddling medical misinformation do not have ‘false content’ warning labels, new report finds

  • A non-profit group found Facebook’s algorithm is not labeling misleading posts
  • Up to 84% of posts with medical misinformation do not have a warning on them
  • The team found that these posts have generated over 3 billion views 
  • However, the peak number of views were observed in April 2020 alone
  • This is about the same time the coronavirus began to spread across the globe 

By Stacy Liberatore For Dailymail.com

Published: | Updated:

Facebook has come under fire recently for allowing medical misinformation to run rampant on its platform and a new report finds it may be worse than previously believed.

Non-profit group Avaaz found 84 percent of posts with false claims and advice have gone unlabeled to warn users of the misleading content.

Not only did Facebook’s algorithm misidentified the posts, but the content generated an estimated 3.8 billion views across five countries in the last year.

The report notes that total estimated views peaked in April, when the coronavirus began to take hold around the world and Facebook executives, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg, promised to combat information.

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Non-profit group Avaaz found 84 percent of posts with false claims and advice have gone unlabeled to warn users of the misleading content. Not only did Facebook’s algorithm misidentified the posts, but the content generated an estimated 3.8 billion views across five countries in the last year

When the coronavirus first began spreading across the US, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned an ‘infodemic’ of misinformation was soon to follow – and a new report suggests may have played a key role in spreading it.

According to Avaaz ‘Facebook’s algorithm is a major threat to public health.’

The non-profit analyzed pieces of medical information-related posts from Facebook and found only 16 percent were labeled or contained a warning that the content was harmful, unproven or misleading.

‘And despite their content being fact-checked, the other 84% of articles and posts Avaaz analyzed remain online without warnings,’ reads the report.

The report also notes that the 10 biggest websites circulating misinformation had nearly four times more views on Facebook than the top 10 largest health organizations, such as WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Avaaz found that just this small sample had been viewed more than three billion times, reaching the US, the UK, France, Germany and Italy – some of the countries hit the hardest by the coronavirus.

Although the billions of views were generated over an entire year, the majority occurred in April 2020 – the team estimates the posts gathered 406 million in that month alone.

The report also notes that the 10 biggest websites circulating misinformation had nearly four times more views on Facebook than the top 10 largest health organizations, such as WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The misleading websites included Realfarmacy.com with over 200 million views and globalresearch.ca with nearly the same amount.

Avaaz said: ‘Facebook has yet to effectively apply these solutions at the scale and sophistication needed to defeat this infodemic, despite repeated calls from doctors and health experts to do so.’

Zuckerberg had made many promises to provide users with authoritative information back in March.

The report notes that total estimated views peaked in April, when the coronavirus began to take hold around the world and Facebook executives, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg (pictured), promised to combat information

He held a press conference with reporters to reveal the sites new ‘Coronavirus Information Center.’

The hub’s main goal was to stop the numerous conspiracy that are encouraging those who are sick to not receive treatment or disregard recommendations from health officials during the pandemic.

‘The top priority for us has been making sure people can get access to good trustworthy information about the outbreak from reliable sources,’ Zuckerberg said during the call.

‘During a pandemic we are seeing hoaxes convincing people who are sick not to get treatment or protect people around them.’

‘We’ve seen one hoax that encourages people if you’re sick to drink bleach to cure it.’

‘That’s terrible, that’s going to cause imminent harm.’.’

However, according to Aaaz, Zuckerberg and Facebook have failed to uphold their promise.

Facebook hit back at Avaaz’s findings to the BBC, saying they did ‘not reflect the steps we’ve taken’

‘We share Avaaz’s goal of limiting misinformation. Thanks to our global network of fact-checkers, from April to June, we applied warning labels to 98 million pieces of Covid-19 misinformation and removed seven million pieces of content that could lead to imminent harm.’

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