Facebook released a report with the most viewed links on the social network in the United States in the first quarter of 2021, and first there is a story on the website of an American newspaper that mistakenly attributed the death of a doctor to the Covid-19 vaccine .
Later, the content of the story was updated to report that an expert analysis found there was no evidence that the vaccination caused the man’s death two weeks later — but by this time, the text had become very popular among anti-cancer denial movements. vaccines.
In total, the link had 54 million views from Facebook users, according to the report. Widely Viewed Content.
The US Department of Health’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that thousands of clinical trials already conducted around the world, in addition to population-based surveys, show that Covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective.
According to the American agency, health problems after immunization against the disease are “rare” and so far they are reduced to two types: anaphylaxis and thrombosis syndrome with thrombocytopenia.
A BBC reporter specializing in social networks and misinformation, Marianna Spring explains that the wide dissemination of the link has to do with the role of “a committed network of activists” anti-vaccination, who find Facebook a fertile environment for distributing this type of content.
“Promoting emotional and personal stories like this (from the doctor) on Facebook has been one of the main tactics these groups have to stop people from being vaccinated — even when, as in this case, there is no evidence of a link between the covid vaccine. -19 and death,” explains Spring.
“In the pandemic, these activists mixed real—and rare—stories about possible adverse vaccine side effects with strong conspiracy theories, medical debate, genuine grief, and legitimate questions.”
“It also demonstrates the complexity of the ecosystem of disinformation in social media, where users take a grain of truth — in this case news — and turn it into a deceptive narrative,” adds the BBC journalist.
Questions to Facebook
Facebook only released the report for the first quarter of 2021 after the publication of a report by the American newspaper The News York Times, according to which the social network postponed the disclosure of the results because they would “get it wrong” – mainly due to the most read link , with the doctor’s story.
In 19th position on the most popular Facebook pages is also the Epoch Times, accused of disseminating right-wing conspiracy theories.
The second quarter report, from April to June, had already been published and showed that the most viewed post in the period was a word search game that would show the “reality of the person” — for example “gratitude”, “connection ” and “changes”.
Regarding the first quarter report, Facebook said it delayed its publication to make “important checks” on the data.
A company spokesperson said: “We thought of making the report public sooner, but as we knew it would get attention, just as we’re looking at this week, we wanted to make some corrections to the system.”
The report focuses on visualization data — not engagement data, which combines information about likes, comments and shares and is measured by another tool, Crowdtangle, commonly used by researchers and journalists.
These professionals have already pointed out in some surveys that, in engagement, the right-wing political content would be dominant.
Facebook is strongly opposed to this idea, saying that only 6% of the content seen by users is political.
But some researchers and journalists working on the issue of disinformation fear that Facebook is looking to sidestep Crowdtangle.
The company did not respond to the BBC’s question whether the tool is under threat.
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