Avaaz, an activist group, did the research and deemed the social network site as a threat to public health. These published false data had been viewed 3.8 billion times in 2019 and has now risen during the pandemic. There were doctors who concocted lies and misinformation about developing vaccines. The dissemination of these false information could jeopardize the decisions of people to get themselves vaccinated if ever one was approved and distributed.
"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,” Facebook defends.
According to the company, they have developed a system to prevent further sharing of links. Facebook will provide external links to anyone who attempts to share sketchy information to a much more reliable source. Reports by Avaaz revealed that only 16% of the identified published posts containing health misinformation had a warning label.
The websites discovered by Avaaz that are disseminating wrong information were gaining as much as four times as many views through Facebook than the sites publishing reliable content like the World Health Organization website.
Examples of misinformation were about Bill Gates funding a polio vaccine resulting in paralysis of about 500,000 Indian children, which gained more than 8 million views. News of colloidal silver as a cure for Ebola had 4.5 million views, and an article stating the negative effects of quarantine incurred more than 2 million views. The faulty fact-checking system of Facebook poses a threat to public awareness and health.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg assured improvements are to be made on this aspect of the website content. Avaaz demanded Facebook to inform site users who had viewed these false content with updated and accurate corrections. They also said to Facebook to possibly lessen the amount of these posts that appear in news feeds so it would not be visible to a lot of users.
A Facebook page with the name Kate Shemirani dubs herself as a ‘Natural Nurse in a Toxic World’. The former registered nurse got her license revoked in July by the Nursing and Midwifery Council indefinitely after posting wrong information about Covid-19 and vaccines.
The anti-vaccine community has been using Facebook and other social media sites to build mistrust on vaccine effectiveness at a time when people really need to believe in it the most. Many vaccines for Covid-19 are nearing the end of their clinical trials and will hopefully be given approval for mass distribution and this kind of misinformation will make the process difficult to carry out. If more people are discouraged by vaccination because of it, the pandemic will be harder to resolve than it already is.