Facebook froze as anti-vaccine comments swarmed users

Mark Zuckerberg

AP photo

WASHINGTON (AP) — Last spring, as false claims about vaccine safety threatened to undermine the world’s response to COVID-19, researchers at Facebook found they could reduce vaccine misinformation by tweaking how vaccine posts show up on users’ newsfeeds.

Yet despite evidence that it worked, Facebook took a full month to implement the changes at a pivotal time in the global vaccine rollout.

Facebook’s own documents also reveal how comments on posts are a hotbed for anti-vaccine messages. But when another researcher suggested disabling comments on vaccine posts, that idea was ignored.

Those revelations were contained in disclosures by a former Facebook employee-turned-whistleblower. Facebook says it has made “considerable progress” with downgrading vaccine misinformation in users’ feeds.

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