Facebook, Instagram and Twitter remove fewer than 1 in 10 posts reported for fake coronavirus news, probe finds


FACEBOOK, Instagram and Twitter have removed fewer than one in ten posts reported for spreading fake news about coronavirus, a probe has found.

The 649 posts that were reported for breaking the social media firms’ own standards included conspiracy theories that viruses cannot be transmitted by air, that Covid-19 is caused by vaccines or 5G mobile posts, and colloidal silver cures and prevents the bug.

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have been accused of failing to deal with fake news about the coronavirus

A study by the Center for Countering Digital Hate found that action was taken on only 61 of the 649 posts reported.

Of those, 6.3 per cent were removed, 2 per cent were from accounts which were subsequently taken down and 1 per cent were flagged as false information but remain online.

More than nine in ten (90.6 per cent) of misinformation posts reported to the platforms were left untouched.

Other posts that have not been removed include claims that Covid-19 is a “false flag” in order to force compulsory vaccinations, and a false story about seven children dying in a vaccination trial in Africa.

Posts promoted false cures for coronavirus posted on the platforms included taking vitamins C,D and zinc and drinking hot water.

Other posts pedalled fake claims that wearing a facemask causes cancer, and a claim that the pandemic is fake and will be used to microchip and enslave the public.

Imran Ahmed, head of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, urged the Government to threaten social media firms with fines if they fail to remove fake news from their sites.

He blasted: “In this pandemic, we all have to do our bit to keep our communities safe. Social media giants are shirking their responsibility to stop dangerous misinformation spreading. Their systems for reporting misinformation and dealing with it are simply not fit for purpose.”

He added: “If social media giants continue to publish misinformation on their websites, then politicians need to hold them to account by imposing financial sanctions for the costs to the NHS, fire service, police and all of society that misinformation causes, and legislate for deeper, faster regulation.”