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Facebook’s vapid half-measures to reel in spread of COVID denialism aren’t working, study finds

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It’s been clear ever since the emergence of a resistance movement to COVID-19 public health measures that the insanely irrational, anti-science conspiracism and misinformation that fueled it was primarily being generated on social media, as has the subsequent violence it has engendered. And as the largest of all social media platforms—and the company most inclined to disingenuous half-measures and denialism when dealing with the toxic environments they create—Facebook has been the greatest wellspring of this informational and cultural pollution, and consequently one of the primary causes of our inability to end the pandemic.

Facebook’s role in spreading COVID-19 denialism is the subject of a fresh study from the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, which explores in detail both how large the audience for this extremist disinformation has grown, as well as how it functions as a radicalization nexus for other far-right ideologies. Moreover, as NBC News’ Ben Collins reports, in recent weeks the antivax/pro-ivermectin Facebook groups have grown so radicalized that they are urging people who contract COVID-19 to avoid hospital intensive care units and instead medicate themselves with “vigilante” treatments.

The social media giant, the IREHR report concludes, “has become an epicenter of COVID denial activism,” despite its widely touted efforts to counter its spread. The study found that most of this denialism is spread through Facebook groups; researchers examined thousands of these groups, both public and private, and cataloged such details as membership, events, videos, posts, and ads. It focused on Facebook because of its singular reach.

The research team documented 1,732 COVID denial groups active on Facebook, with a combined membership of 2,445,602 participants. They are spread across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and regionally distributed relatively evenly.

“More than other platforms, COVID denial activity on Facebook has........

© Daily Kos

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