An NGO recently published a report blaming social media giant Facebook for the widespread proliferation of fake news amid the covid-19 pandemic. According to the report, over the past twelve months, Facebook has allowed fake news to reach an estimated 3.8 billion views, with a peak in April 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated in the western world.
Facebook is not doing enough to counter fake news, says the NGO Avaaz. Based on data from five countries namely the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Italy and France, the activists noted the overwhelming weight of false information on the famous social network. According to the report, Facebook’s algorithm has enabled fake news to reach as many as 3.8 billion views over the past twelve months. A peak was reached in April with around 460 million views. However, this peak corresponds to the acceleration of the spread of the coronavirus around the world.
According to Avaaz, the dozen sites disseminating false information generated almost four times more views than the ten most important world health authorities! Among these authorities, we find the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States.
If Facebook has been singled out, there is a valid reason. According to the report, only 16% of false information published on the platform had a warning label. In addition, the pages disseminating the fake news would be followed by approximately 28 million people. While in these times of pandemic the public needs reliable information, fake news has never been so plentiful.
An article on fake cures for deadly diseases, like colloidal silver for Ebola virus, garnered 4.5 million views. Another article explaining that quarantine harms public health has been viewed 2.4 million times. For the NGO, Facebook’s algorithm is a major threat to public health.