Facebook has recently faced much criticism for having hundreds of accounts that are spreading misinformation regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. AVAAZ researchers went undercover to see for themselves if the Facebook algorithm would direct them to anti-vaccine pages. Over the course of two days, their research had directed them to 109 pages of anti-vaccine content. The more they liked pages containing anti-vaccine content, the facebook algorithm kept suggesting more of the anti-vaccine pages to follow.
What did the anti-vaccine pages say?
- The vaccine is associated with autism: 11 pages from AVAAZ’s research said that the vaccine would cause children to develop autism. Many are suggesting that it is from the aluminum in the vaccine, which has not been proven to be true by the CDC. Facebook has already made a pledge to remove pages that suggest this, but there are still pages that are being made regarding autism and the vaccine.
- The vaccine kills children: an organization named “Learn the Risk” has made a Facebook page regarding the vaccine killing children. They have also bought several billboards across the country to advocate for their theory. As of now, the CDC has no findings that the vaccine is doing such things.
- Vaccines are not included in the medical school education: Dr. Suzanne Humphries has said that vaccines are “not included in medical school education,” according to AVAAZ. In her opinion, vaccines do not increase the lifespan of individuals, and should not be used for that reason. On the contrary, 610 thousand Americans have died from COVID-19, which has caused the average lifespan to go down in the past year.
Facebook has attempted to correct many of these false allegations by applying warning labels to posts and directing individuals to the CDC website for further information regarding COVID-19.
AVAAZ has suggested some solutions that could help with the spreading of false information regarding COVID-19 vaccines:
- Transparency and audits: AVAAZ suggests that executives should prioritize time to show Facebook accounts that could have possible misinformation surrounding the vaccine.
- Detox the algorithm: AVAAZ suggests that the Biden administration should work to be more transparent regarding the misleading algorithms on Facebook.
- Correct the record: AVVAZ suggests fact checkers on Facebook to show the corrections made regarding pieces of false information on users’ accounts. This could help to end the false information regarding the vaccine.
Social media can be a wonderful way to spread positivity and facts. However, it is easy to get caught up in the algorithm that suggests potentially false information. Stay safe and go to your local physician, as well as the CDC page, to receive the most accurate information regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.