How many fake messages does facebook have

Fake news about coronavirus on Facebook : "Greater damage than the virus"

The corona virus - of course - also concerns Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg. “It's important that everyone can talk about the outbreak, but it's not okay to share something that puts people at risk. So we are removing false claims and conspiracy theories that have been flagged by the leading health organizations, "writes Zuckerberg in a long post about the network's handling of the coronavirus and the false reports going viral about the pandemic.

On the one hand, Facebook does not want to allow the spread of false information and conspiracy theories about the new type of coronavirus. On the other hand, the social network wants to take action against advertising that exploits the crisis - for example by claiming that the products could cure the disease. Zuckerberg's pithy words nonetheless raise numerous questions. How reliably can false reports be separated from correct information? How transparent are the criteria used? How is freedom of expression guaranteed?

So far, Facebook has taken the position of not wanting to decide what is wrong and what is right. In order to prevent people from being endangered by corona fake news, Facebook is now taking a different approach. This also means that the World Health Organization gets as many free ad space on Facebook as it needs. Other organizations would also be supported with vouchers for advertising, among other things.

In its fact-checking program, Facebook in Germany works not only with Correctiv but also with dpa. "In order to contain false information about the corona virus, we have taken several measures," added a Facebook spokeswoman in Berlin Zuckerberg's remarks.

"In addition to our fact-checking program, we are in contact with local health organizations and experts. Only if they report false information to us are we checked and deleted by employees." The search for duplicates and the deletion of duplicates are then carried out using automated processes. "In this way we ensure that only the content that poses a danger to people is deleted."

European politics are also concerned with the dangers of false reports about Corona. Vera Jourová, Vice President of the EU Commission, met representatives of online platforms on Tuesday to talk about disinformation in connection with Covid-19. The platforms now want to examine what they can do to reduce the risk of disinformation. "I welcome your attempt to promote authoritative sources and identify harmful content so that the #disinformation does not become a greater source of public harm than the virus itself," Jourová tweeted after the meeting.

"It doesn't work with algorithms alone"

The German Association of Journalists (DJV) is critical of Facebook's plans. “Facebook's resolution not to appear as a virus thrower in connection with Corona sounds good at first. But how does the group want to differentiate between fake news and secured information? ”Asks DJV spokesman Hendrik Zörner. That doesn't work with algorithms alone. "The danger that Facebook deletes important information with supposedly best intentions is far too great." If Facebook is serious about the fight against corona fakes, the company must commission hordes of journalists to do the research. “The colleagues from Correctiv, who already support Facebook, are not enough for this. It won't work any other way. "

Four people are currently involved in fact checking at Correctiv, and an expansion of the department is planned. Half of the team is currently checking reports on the corona pandemic, while the other half is following developments in Greece. "At Corona we have a pretty good overview," says corrective fact checker Till Eckert. “We can selectively counteract false reports and contain them, even if we certainly cannot resolve the big issue of disinformation on our own. That would also require national and local media. "
Facebook has informed Corretiv in advance that in the event of the coronavirus outbreak, false reports should now also be deleted. How necessary this is obvious is shown by dangerous instructions such as these, according to which one should drink bleach to protect against the disease, reports Eckert. Not so life-threatening, but still absurd, was the claim that the people in Wuhan did not die of Covid-19, but of 5G.

The fact checkers also provide information on the results on Twitter via @correctiv_ffekt. Eckert would like that in addition to Facebook, Google, Youtube and Twitter would also place more trust in the control facilities that are organized in the International Fact Checking Network.

Is it more than a PR strategy?


Markus Beckedahl, editor-in-chief of Netzpolitik.org, is nevertheless skeptical to what extent Zuckerberg's announcement actually represents a new Facebook policy in dealing with fake news, or whether it is just the well-known policy in the Corona edition. "The question is what is really new about the announcement," says Internet politician Beckedahl, adding: "So far, I haven't discovered that much new."

According to Beckedahl's assessment, Facebook could actually make a big difference. From the usage data from Facebook, knowledge about the spread of the virus itself could be derived. Zuckerberg has announced that it will share "aggregated and anonymized" data with selected researchers in order to understand the spread of the virus. “This super data should be made available to a lot more scientists,” demands Beckedahl. And addresses another problem: There is no fact checking for messengers like WhatsApp.

Patrick Gensing, fact finder at tagesschau.de, also refers to this. "When the coronavirus spreads, people are confronted with a flood of assessments, information and advice." Many of them are well-founded and factual, others are alarmist and simply wrong. “In this context, numerous false and deliberately misleading reports can be identified. In the Arab world, for example, there is the phantasm that the epidemic is a punishment from God. There are also numerous false pictures and videos that have been torn out of their context in order to generate clicks with fear. ”On tagesschau.de you can find some reports on this.

"No panacea for fake news"

There is no panacea for such phenomena, said Gensing. "In addition to Facebook, messenger services such as WhatsApp or Telegram have long played a decisive role in the spread of targeted false reports."

Nevertheless, by deleting clearly incorrect content that has been checked by independent fact checkers, its effect can at least be limited. “But there is also content that is not clearly wrong. Personal assessments are also protected by the fundamental right to freedom of expression and therefore the greatest caution is required when it comes to interference. "

In the case of Corona, Facebook is quite ready to act. The annual F8 developer conference planned for May has already been canceled. When dealing with fake news and rumors of conspiracy via its various platforms, Facebook will have to put up with further questions.

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