Social media companies unable to curb Covid-related misinformation: Report

Brussels: Social media companies such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube are not doing enough to stop the spread of misinformation about Covid-19 on their platforms, a new report has found.

A preliminary research from global civic organisation Avaaz, found 240 pieces of fact-checked misinformation content about Covid-19 that had reportedly been liked, shared, and commented on more than 2.8 million times on spreading on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube, the Euronews reported on Thursday.

“It’s exhausting to keep saying this, but none of the tech platforms are doing enough to curb the toxic lies polluting their platforms,” Luca Nicotra, Campaign Director at Avaaz, was quoted as saying.

“The big four tech platforms are failing to act on 37 per cent of the Covid-19 disinformation content sample studied in this research,” Avaaz added.

Youtube emerged the worst social network as it neglected to remove over 92 per cent of the Covid-related misinformation. It was followed by Twitter (74 per cent), Facebook (27 per cent) and Instagram (7 per cent), the report said.

YouTube said its teams have removed more than 900,000 videos related to “dangerous or misleading Covid-19 medical information.”

Facebook stated that the company said it removed more than 18 million pieces of content from both Facebook and Instagram for violating our Covid-19 and vaccine misinformation policies since the beginning of the pandemic.

“We’ve also labelled more than 167 million pieces of Covid-19 content rated false by our network of fact checking partners,” a company spokesperson was quoted as saying. Avaaz’s study, on the other hand, found that Covid-19 misinformation on Facebook had received more interactions than on any other platform.

Twitter told Euronews that “since the beginning of Covid-19… We’ve removed more than 22,400 Tweets and challenged 11.7 million accounts worldwide”.

Avaaz has called on the social networking companies, and the European Union, to fight misinformation related to Covid-19 akin to climate change.

“We urgently need a ‘Paris Agreement for Disinformation’,” said Nicotra, “but that requires the Big Tech platforms to agree on a strong Code of Practice that has meaningful commitments and measurable action.”

“This is their last chance saloon – otherwise, get ready for regulation,” he added.

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