Technology

Health misinformation on Facebook gets 3.8 billion views, report says

The report identified 82 websites forming the network of misinformers.   | Photo Credit: AFP

Global health misinformation on Facebook was viewed more than three billion times in the last one year ending April 2020, according to a report by Avaaz, an activist group.

That is about four times more than accurate content posted on 10 leading health institutions, including the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Misinformation spreading networks on Facebook are based in at least five countries, including USA, UK, France, Germany, and Italy, the report said.

Many of these networks, made up of both websites and Facebook pages, have shared vaccination and health-related misinformation on the social network’s platform for years. Some networks did not appear to have had any focus on health until February 2020 before they started covering COVID-19 pandemic.

Avaaz has identified 82 websites forming the network of misinformers. The top 42 pages alone generated about 800 million views, Avaaz said.

Realfarmacy is one of the largest health misinformation spreading networks. It received over 581 million views. Another large group, Truth About Cancer, created a massive wave of anti-vaccination content and Covid-19 conspiracies.

Out of a sample set of 174 pieces of health misinformation available on Facebook, only 16% of the articles and posts had a warning label on Facebook.

The social network said it will issue ‘strong warning labels’ for misinformation flagged by fact-checkers and other third-party entities, according to a company blogpost in March.

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Printable version | Jan 15, 2021 9:22:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/health-misinformation-on-facebook-gets-38-billion-views-report-says/article32413720.ece

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