Fb stated it could cease recommending anti-vaccine teams. It didn’t.

Fb broadcast a sweeping pledge in a Feb. 8 weblog publish: It might take away false claims about vaccines from its platform. The declaration adopted a collection of guarantees over the previous months to curb bogus well being data on its website, notably misinformation surrounding the pandemic. This included a dedication in September to cease recommending “well being teams” in an effort to halt the observe of individuals turning to fellow Fb customers as an alternative of docs for medical recommendation.

However knowledge from The Markup’s Citizen Browser mission reveals that not solely is COVID-19 misinformation nonetheless straightforward to seek out on Fb, the corporate has additionally continued to suggest well being teams to its customers, together with blatantly anti-vaccine teams and pages explicitly based to propagate lies in regards to the pandemic.

Citizen Browser consists of a nationwide panel of Fb customers who routinely share their information feed knowledge with The Markup, together with which teams the platform recommends they be part of.

Even on this comparatively small subset of three,156 Fb customers, we discovered a whole lot of well being teams really helpful to our panelists, together with 31 teams or pages that contained anti-vaccine or anti-mask propaganda and misinformation in regards to the pandemic. The suggestions we tracked occurred between Nov. 15 and Could 1, together with at the very least seven after Fb’s newest introduced crackdown in February.

For “well being” teams, we looked for any group really helpful to our panelists with a reputation that included the phrase “well being” or any certainly one of 12 health- and illness-related phrases, and eradicated teams containing any of an inventory of key phrases suggesting the teams weren’t associated to bodily human well being (e.g., “canine,” “cat,” “relationship”). To search out pandemic-related data, we reviewed these well being teams, together with extra searches for teams and pages with phrases like “well being freedom” and “medical freedom” after which examined the posts and descriptions to substantiate the character of their content material. In some instances, the group’s titles themselves overtly pointed to misinformation, regardless of Fb’s acknowledged insurance policies. See extra on our knowledge right here.

On March 26, as an example, Fb advised that certainly one of our panelists be part of a gaggle referred to as “Covid-19 is a HOAX!” The general public group, with 81 members, describes itself as “a gaggle of woke people who agree with the FACT Covid-19 is a fucking HOAX!” The group’s dialogue feed is generally crammed with anti-vaccine video testimonials from the far-right website BitChute. Fashionable hashtags throughout the group embody #ExposeCNN, #justsayno, and #wewillsupportyou.

Credit score: The Markup