Facebook and others are doing ‘not enough’ to stop COVID misinformation, surgeon general says

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US Surgeon General Dr Vivek Murthy once again criticized the role of social media in spreading misinformation about COVID-19 on Sunday, a day after Facebook Inc. quietly released a delayed report on its most important links. efficient.

“The speed, scale and sophistication with which [misinformation] is spreading and impacting our health is truly unprecedented, ”Murthy said Sunday morning in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union”. “And that is happening in large part, in part, aided and encouraged by social media platforms.”

While acknowledging that some action has been taken by social media companies to combat the spread of disinformation, Murthy said, “This is not enough. “

“There are people who are super-disseminators of disinformation,” he said. “And there are still algorithms that continue to provide more and more misinformation to people who first encounter them. These are things that businesses can and must change. And I think they have a moral responsibility to do it quickly and transparently.

Murthy cited an online myth that prompted the Food and Drug Administration to tweet on Saturday that people shouldn’t use a livestock drug as a treatment or to prevent COVID-19. The drug ivermectin can be toxic to humans, and Murthy said its use highlights “the high cost of health misinformation.”

Murthy’s comments came hours after a Saturday night news dump by Facebook FB,
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who released its “content transparency report” delayed in the first quarter. Friday, the New York Times reported the results were dropped earlier this year after Facebook executives feared it would make the company look bad. Among the findings of the Facebook report: Its most viewed link between January and March was a report on a CDC investigation into the death of a doctor who had received the COVID-19 vaccine two weeks earlier, and that The Epoch Times, a newspaper, which propagated right-wing conspiracy theories, was the 19th most popular Facebook page in the first quarter.

While the report on the doctor was legitimate, some wondered why an article questioning the safety of the vaccine and heavily promoted by anti-vaccine groups was circulated so widely by Facebook’s algorithm.

Facebook had published its Q2 Content Transparency Report last week. This too has drawn criticism.

In a Medium blog postBrian Boland, Facebook’s former vice president of product marketing, sharply criticized the Facebook report, calling the data released “generally unnecessary” and saying “this whole effort is a publicity stunt.”


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