Facebook publishes public health disinformation totaling 3.8 billion page views. They haven’t done anything about it.

Facebook publishes far more false health information than true information, according to a new study by Avaaz, a nonprofit devoted to disinformation research.

Quoting from their Web site:

  • Global health misinformation spreading networks spanning at least five countries generated an estimated 3.8 billion views on Facebook in the last year.
  • Health misinformation spreading websites at the heart of the networks peaked at an estimated 460 million views on Facebook in April 2020, just as the global pandemic was escalating around the world.
  • Content from the top 10 websites spreading health misinformation had almost four times as many estimated views on Facebook as equivalent content from the websites of 10 leading health institutions, such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Facebook drives traffic to notorious health disinformation Web sites such as RealFarmacy and GreenMedInfo. These sites received 43% of their traffic from Facebook referrals.

42 Facebook pages identified by Avaaz as culprits have a total of 28 million followers.

Avaaz identifies steps Facebook could take to cut the reach of these sites by as much as 80%, but they haven't done anything.

The steps are:

  1. Issue corrections to users who have seen this misinformation. (Facebook knows which pages you have seen. That's how they target ads. They could just target people with corrections.)
  2. Fix the algorithm that sends people to these pages. Just don't send people to scammy Web sites.

Read the full report here.