A news article about a doctor who died after receiving a Covid-19 vaccination was Facebook’s most viewed link in the US in the first quarter of 2021, a previously shelved report shows.
This piece was updated following a report that said there wasn’t a proven connection to the vaccine. It was well-received by vaccine sceptics.
The New York Times claimed that Facebook initially held back its report because it would “look bad”.
Facebook claimed that the delay was necessary to implement “key fixes”.
Already published the company’s “Widely Viewed Content Report” for the quarter ended 2021. It found that a word search promising “your reality”, was the most popular post.
Most of the top 20 were also populated by frivolous questions.
The New York Times announced Friday, however that it had withheld the report from January 2021 to March 2021.
NEW w/ @rmac18: Facebook released its first-ever quarterly report on Widely Viewed Content this week. However, an earlier Q1 report was available and was rescheduled as executives were afraid it might make the company look poor. https://t.co/SYcqhb7MQK
Davey Alba (@daveyalba).August 20, 2021
According to the paper, the fear that the report would be “bad for the company” was the reason why the report wasn’t shared.
A mainstream US newspaper published an article that reported on the death of a doctor two weeks following his treatment with Covid-19. It was this link’s most viewed. This link was viewed nearly 54,000,000 times.
Later, the article was updated to reflect findings by the Medical Examiner who concluded that the evidence was not sufficient to prove the vaccine’s role in the deaths.
The vaccine has been deemed safe by health authorities around the globe.
The first quarter report also revealed that the 19th most popular page on the platform belonged to the Epoch Times, which has been accused of spreading right-wing conspiracy theories.
This story about a doctor who was vaccinated against Covid-19 and died just two weeks later shows how popular Facebook is for spreading anti-vaccination propaganda.
Partly this can be explained by the dedicated network of activists who, in a range of different roles, oppose coronavirus vaccinations.
They have used Facebook to promote emotive and personal stories such as this one. Even though, like in this case, the death is not linked to the Covid-19 vaccine.
These activists have created a web of conspiracy to create fake stories about adverse side effects. They exploit medical debates, grief and legitimate questions.
It also shows the complexity of social media’s disinformation ecosystem – users can seize upon a grain or truth (in this instance, an accurate news story) and turn it into misleading stories without having the facts.
I previously reported on how activists misappropriated the image of one woman’s foot on Facebook, after she took part in the Pfizer vaccine trials.
Facebook published the report after the NY Times story was published.
The spokesperson said that the company had considered publishing the report earlier, but because of the interest it would attract, just as this week, we decided to fix the system.
Facebook claims that these fixes include fixing bugs in certain queries which were the basis for the report.
Andy Stone, the firm’s CEO added additional detail to a thread on Twitter.
Our house was not clean before our guests arrived. This has been criticised, but it’s not fair.
Andy Stone (@andymstone).August 21, 2021
The quarterly reports are focused on the most popular content in America, not what people engage with via comments, likes and shares.
They paint a different picture to data gathered by researchers and journalists with Crowdtangle, Facebook’s engagement-measuring tool, which suggests that right-leaning political content is dominant on the platform.
Facebook strongly resisted this idea and stated that only 6 percent of the content they see is political.
However, some researchers are concerned that Facebook may be closing down Crowdtangle. __S.42__
BBC asked the company if it was in danger.
Publiated at Mon, 23 August 2021 16:50:48 +0000