Facebook COVID vaccine lies spread even as it denied fueling hesitancy

  • According to The Wall Street Journal, researchers at Facebook warned comments on vaccine-related posts were filled with anti-vaccine messaging and misinformation.
  • Facebook spokesperson Aaron Simpson told USA TODAY the documents unearthed in the report show the company’s routine process in dealing with tough challenges.

Anti-vaccine activists flooded Facebook to sow doubt about the COVID-19 vaccines, overwhelming efforts to stop them, even as the company told the world that it was not responsible for vaccine hesitancy, a new report from the Wall Street Journal has found.

Of about 150,000 users posting in Facebook Groups disabled for spreading COVID-19 misinformation, 5% produced half of the posts, and 1,400 invited half of the new members, one document unearthed by the newspaper found. 

The report paints a picture of a company outfoxed by a small but wily group of anti-vaccine activists that it called “big whales.” 

Facebook researchers in May compared the problem to QAnon and allegations of election fraud, “with a relatively few number of actors creating a large percentage of the content and growth.”

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