Coronavirus misinformation spreads on Facebook


Facebook continues to spread misinformation about the corona virus that has killed more than 100 people in China, worldwide, despite efforts and commitments by the social media company to remove fake news.

A Facebook post says the United States had a patented coronavirus vaccine years ago. It is a joke.

The wrong information was released on January 21 and was still available on a public page a week later, although refers to it and other posts that post inaccurate information on Facebook. The post has been shared 4,800 times and has 432 comments. A comment on the fake Facebook post links to a website that calls the corona virus itself a joke, suggesting that drinking corona beer alone will cure the virus.

Screenshot of a post about Coronavirus on Facebook.

Courtesy of Facebook

Another comment on the Facebook post points to a website that says the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is linked to the recent outbreak. It is predicted that the world health authorities will soon block Internet access or force social media sites to suppress the alleged truth about the virus.

To be clear, none of this is correct.

And yet the Facebook posts live on like others. In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, in which U.S. intelligence agencies believe Russia has used Facebook and other social media to spread false news and to inform Donald Trump about the result, the social media giant has committed to misinformation on its website to fight.

Facebook formed an alliance with the media and other factcheckers, including, to find out which messages were wrong and to either remove the posts or flag them as wrong.

For example, after fierce criticism, Facebook has banned InfoWars' Alex Jones, who has spread numerous conspiracies, including staging the shooting of the Sandy Hook school. Last month was Jones ordered to pay $ 100,000 to a victim's family for Jones’s testimony to the shootout.

Social media companies are reviewing policy ad policies as the 2020 race accelerates

Facebook has launched an advertising campaign with posters saying "False messages are not your friend". More recently, Facebook has criticized its decision to allow political advertising without fact-checking. Twitter, on the other hand, has announced that it will not allow political advertising for its service.

However, the coronavirus episode shows that Facebook's ability to suppress fake messages and its willingness to do so are at best still limited.

Facebook told CBS MoneyWatch through a spokesman that its third-party fact-finding partnerships "drastically reduce" the spread of false news by the company.

"This situation [with the coronavirus] is developing rapidly and we will continue to work for global and regional health organizations to provide support and support, "said a Facebook spokesman in a statement.

Facebook inserts a pop-up that shows the image in gray and is labeled "Incorrect information – verified by independent fact checkers" on a number of corona virus posts. A pop-up example contains a fake article that states that the U.S. government has had a coronavirus vaccine for years but has not made it to cause and promote anxiety. However, Facebook has not removed the post, and the text and link to what users claim as a patent still exist. Comments are still allowed.

Screenshot of a blocked post on Facebook about the corona virus.

Courtesy of Facebook

Coronavirus is actually a class of viruses that were identified years ago, many of which have patented treatments. The strain of the coronavirus, which is believed to originate in Wuhan, China, and is currently spreading and alarming health officials, is new and incurable.

Other Facebook posts claiming a patent for the corona virus are followed by a box with three stories, including that from, which claims the claim to be false.

The rival social media site Twitter is also struggling to stem the plague of coronavirus fake contamination.

For example, Facebook has set up a pop-up window that blocks a post with a screenshot of a tweet from the well-known conspiracy theorist Jordan Sather, who was one of the first to make the wrong claim, and even called coronavirus a "fad". On Twitter, where Sather has 115,500 followers, the tweet remains live and not blocked. It has been retweeted 4,700 times and has fallen almost 6,000 times.