Stopping anti-vaccine misinformation may not be as complicated as social media companies seem. That’s because 12 of the top anti-vaccine campaigners are responsible for a disproportionate amount of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media, a new report said.
The report, a joint effort of the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) and Anti-Vax Watch, found that up to 73% of vaccine misinformation on Facebook and 17% of vaccine misinformation on Twitter can be linked to the same 12 people. . Yet the accounts, which the report calls the “dozen of disinformation,” have largely avoided bans even as Facebook and Twitter have stepped up efforts to curb misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines in recent months.
For example, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has long been one of the most prominent anti-vaxxers on social media, was in February, but her Facebook and Twitter accounts remain online. Others named in the report remain active on all three platforms. The report says dismantling these individuals and the organization they represent “would dramatically reduce” the amount of vaccine misinformation on social media.
A Facebook spokesperson took issue with the report’s methodology. “Working with major healthcare organizations, we’ve updated our policies to take action against accounts that violate our COVID-19 and vaccine rules – including reducing their distribution or removing them from our platform – and have already taken action against some of the groups. in this report, ”Facebook spokesman Kevin McAlister said in a statement. “As research shows that the best way to tackle vaccine hesitancy is to connect people to trusted information from health experts, we have also connected over 2 billion people to government resources. health facilities, in particular via our COVID-19 information center. ”
In a statement, a Twitter spokesperson said his misinformation about COVID-19 applies to all users. “We will not act on every instance of disinformation,” the spokesperson said, adding that Twitter is removing tweets that could “cause serious harm”. “Since the introduction of our COVID-19 guidance last year, we have deleted over 22,400 Tweets and challenged 11.7 million accounts worldwide.”
The report comes amid increasing pressure on social media platforms to do more to curb . On Thursday, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey and Sundar Pichai are scheduled to appear at a on disinformation. CEOs are likely to answer questions about their handling of misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines during the pandemic.