Misinformation “Super-Spreaders” Thrive on Facebook

A new report challenges Facebook on coronavirus misinformation. Photo Illustration: Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto/Getty
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A new report challenges Facebook on coronavirus misinformation. Photo Illustration: Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto/Getty

Despite pledges to tackle misinformation, Facebook has allowed COVID-19 lies and conspiracies to spread like wildfire on the platform, according to a damning new report by the nonprofit Avaaz.
 
Key findings, as reported by The Guardian

  • The top 10 misinformation sites received almost 4X more views than their reputable counterparts.  
  • 42 “super-spreader” sites garnered 28 million followers.
  • A network of 82 sites across 5 countries generated an estimated 3.8 billion views.

While Facebook has claimed false posts are “demoted,” the report suggests the company’s verification system is inadequate—particularly when it comes to posts in multiple languages.
 
The report's recommendations for Facebook: Post prominent corrections, and make good on the promise to downgrade misinformation in user feeds.

PS: Misinformation kills. A single false claim about a coronavirus treatment led to ~800 deaths, according to a recent American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene article.

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