“All of my research is on the things that social media platforms can do to improve things,” said David Rand, a professor at MIT and one of the authors of the study that tests the impact of Trump by praising the vaccines. “But I think TV and radio, especially conservative TV and radio, are essentially getting a free pass now, even if they do an extraordinary disservice.”
Criticism of Facebook’s Biden administration is a double win for Fox News. Not only does it draw attention to the network’s own guilt over the vaccination gap, but it feeds a powerful right-wing narrative about the government and Big Tech colluding to silence conservatives. “I just think this kind of coordination between the big government and the big monopolistic corporation, or kid, is a scary thing. And it’s really censorship,” Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley said. he said Thursday in-where else? -Fox News. This sense of rage easily sustains conservative media throughout the weekend, with pundits and Republican lawmakers weighing in, as Ted Cruz put it, “their willingness to trample on freedom of expression, to trample on the Constitution, to use the power of the government to silence the silence, all we feared they might do ”.
It’s easy to see why the White House is spending political capital to beat Facebook rather than Fox News: Facebook might actually listen. Biden has no influence on the right-wing media. When a Fox News host questions the safety or wisdom of vaccination, there is no failure in the application; is tonight’s schedule. Many people on Facebook, by contrast, prefer not to be responsible for poisoning America’s public health information environment.
Which, according to Facebook, they are not. In a blog post last week, Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of integrity, argued that Facebook has been a force for good when it comes to vaccinations. He noted that “more than 2 billion people have seen unauthorized information about Covid-19 and vaccines on Facebook” since the beginning of the pandemic, while the company has “eliminated more than 18 million cases of Covid-19 misinformation.” And, he said, Facebook has already complied with all eight general surgeon recommendations – which would include Murthy’s suggestion that companies “give researchers access to useful data to properly analyze the spread and impact of to misinformation “.
In fact, Facebook does not provide access to the data needed to understand what is happening on its platform. Note, for example, that Rosen’s blog doesn’t mention how many times users have seen unreliable information about Covid or vaccines. Facebook advertises statistics on engagement with posts — likes, shares, etc. — but refuses to disclose data on “reach,” i.e. how many people see a piece of content. Nor does it provide any concrete details on its efforts to reduce the spread of disinformation.
“The public has no idea what Facebook is or isn’t doing to fight vaccine misinformation, and it doesn’t make sense of how bad or bad the problem is,” said Rand, the professor of at MIT. “There’s a lot of work in the company by a lot of smart people trying to reduce the impact of misinformation, but they don’t talk about it much.”
Rand said platforms like Facebook should collaborate with outside researchers on empirical studies on what works and doesn’t work to combat vaccine misinformation — and publicize the results. He noted that Facebook is relying on enough data to measure how exposure to posts on vaccines affects real-world behaviors. “They do randomized controlled trials on vaccine disinformation every day, they don’t just think that way,” he said.
The irony is that, furnishing some insight into how to approach the problem, Facebook seems to have struck the possible balance between transparency and secrecy. YouTube puts relatively little information at the disposal of searchers, helping it to fly under the political and regulatory radar despite its importance. Meanwhile, Facebook provides enough data through CrowdTangle for researchers and journalists to shatter the company – but then hide the evidence it claims it would claim.