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Tech giants join with governments to fight Covid misinformation

The Guardian

Facebook, Twitter and Google are working with a coalition of governments including the UK and Canada to fight misinformation and conspiracy theories around Covid vaccinations. Formed by the British fact-checking charity Full Fact, the new working group will aim to set cross-platform standards for tackling misinformation – as well as how to hold organisations accountable for their failure to do so. "Bad information ruins lives, and we all have a responsibility to fight it where we see it," said Full Fact's chief executive, Will Moy. "The coronavirus pandemic and the wave of false claims that followed demonstrated the need for a collective approach to this problem. "A coronavirus vaccine is now potentially just months away.


How Instagram's anti-vaxxers fuel coronavirus conspiracy theories

Engadget

Instagram's efforts to curb health misinformation have done little to stem the flow of conspiracy theories and misinformation about vaccines. The app continues to be a hotbed of anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, which often spread without the promised fact-checks and are further fueled by Instagram's search and recommendation algorithms. The problem has only escalated during COVID-19 as the coronavirus pandemic has given rise to a new surge of viral disinformation and conspiracy theories, many of which are widely promoted by the anti-vaccination movement. At the same time, many of Facebook's moderators have been unable to work and review reports of potentially rule-breaking content. Like Facebook, Instagram doesn't ban anti-vaccine content, though the company claims it has attempted to make it less visible to users.


Misinformation

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

Hours after Margaret Keenan, a 90-year-old grandmother from the United Kingdom, became the first person to get the COVID-19 vaccine, anti-vaxxers claimed she didn't exist, that she was dead and that she was part of a Bill Gates scheme to implant microchips. A USA TODAY analysis of one popular tweet claiming Keenan was a "crisis actress" shows how quickly this misinformation can spread. Before that time the next day, more than 475,000 Twitter users had been potentially exposed, a number calculated by adding up the total number of followers of each account that retweeted @bankiegirl's post. On Facebook, the same message and images, posted by Chris Claxton, received over 183 comments and 289 shares. Researchers warn this is just the beginning of viral hoaxes on social media that will feed off the unknowns of the virus and the vaccines to undercut public trust in the coming wave of immunizations.


'We are talking about people's lives,' dire warnings of public health crisis as COVID vaccine misinformation rages

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

Hours after Margaret Keenan, a 90-year-old grandmother from the United Kingdom, became the first person to get the COVID-19 vaccine, anti-vaxxers claimed she didn't exist, that she was dead and that she was part of a Bill Gates scheme to implant microchips. A USA TODAY analysis of one popular tweet claiming Keenan was a "crisis actress" shows how quickly this misinformation can spread. Before that time the next day, more than 475,000 Twitter users had been potentially exposed, a number calculated by adding up the total number of followers of each account that retweeted @bankiegirl's post. On Facebook, the same message and images, posted by Chris Claxton, received over 183 comments and 289 shares. Researchers warn this is just the beginning of viral hoaxes on social media that will feed off the unknowns of the virus and the vaccines to undercut public trust in the coming wave of immunizations.


Facebook to remove false claims about Covid vaccines

The Guardian

Facebook is to begin removing false claims about Covid vaccines, the company has announced, as the UK prepares to roll out the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. It is the strongest move yet by Facebook to prevent its platform from being used to promote anti-vaccination rhetoric. The Pfizer/BioNTech Covid jab is an mRNA vaccine. Essentially, mRNA is a molecule used by living cells to turn the gene sequences in DNA into the proteins that are the building blocks of all their fundamental structures. A segment of DNA gets copied ("transcribed") into a piece of mRNA, which in turn gets "read" by the cell's tools for synthesising proteins. In the case of an mRNA vaccine, the virus's mRNA is injected into the muscle, and our own cells then read it and synthesise the viral protein.