Fake News on COVID-19 floods Social media platforms
Fake news has no doubt ferociously moved across the media landscape in this digital age thanks to the liberal leanings of the media over the years. Currently, people can now couch their own news from an existing real news, glaze it with their own version of the news and share it on their social media pages which really cost ‘nothing’ to own and run, pretty much to the gullibility of people.
According to a report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, some hundreds of posts spreading misinformation about COVID-19 are being left online, with some 649 posts being reported to Facebook and Twitter, including false cures, anti-vaccination propaganda and conspiracy theories around 5G. The report also suggests that some 90% remained visible online afterwards without any attached caveat.
Facebook has refuted claims however, stating the sample was “not representative”. A spokesperson representing the social media platform said,
“We are taking aggressive steps to remove harmful misinformation from our platforms and have removed hundreds of thousands of these posts including claims about false cures”.
As part of their counteractive measure to stymie the flow of false news on their site, the spokesperson said, “During March and April we placed warning labels on around 90 million pieces of content related to covid-19 and these labels stopped people viewing the original content 95% of the time. We will notify anyone who has liked, shared or commented on posts related to covid-19 that we’ve since removed”.
Twitter, another reputable social media platform has likewise suffered a spate of fake news with their insistence that it was prioritizing the removal of covid-19 contents on the knowledge that it could potentially cause harm.
In explaining their position on the matter,
"As we’ve said previously, we will not take enforcement action on every Tweet that contains incomplete or disputed information about covid-19. Since introducing these new policies on March 18 and as we’ve doubled down on tech, our automated systems have challenged more than 4.3 million accounts which were targeting discussions around covid-19 with spammy or manipulative behaviors”.
Despite the efforts of these platforms in mitigating the spread of false news, Imran Ahmed, chief executive of the Center for countering Digital Hate was of the view that these firms were shirking their responsibilities in their failure to take action against handed down posts promoting misinformation.
The director of youth action group Restless Development, Rosanne Palmer-White corroborated the efforts of the survey by saying the young people are being circumspect as they were “doing their bit to stop the spread of misinformation but social media firms were letting them down”.
A survey conducted showed Twitter was deemed the least responsive with only 3% of the 179 posts which suggested sufferers can get rid of coronavirus by drinking aspirin dissolved in hot water or by taking zinc and vitamin D supplements. Facebook on the other hand stripped 10% of the 334 posts reported and flagged 2% as false. Instagram, owned by Facebook acted on 10% of the 135 complaints it was sent.
Both Twitter and Facebook face questions from the UK’s digital Culture Media and Sport sub-committee on the way they’re handling coronavirus misinformation, with the two insisting they have made efforts to bring fake news about the coronavirus under control.