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Health misinformation attracted 3.8 billion views on Facebook last year: report

Posts spreading health misinformation attracted as many as 3.8 billion views on Facebook in the last year, peaking during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 460 million views in April alone, found a report by activist group Avaaz. The report, in a scathing indictment of Facebook's inability to limit the spread of misinformation, said that the company was "failing to keep people safe and informed during the pandemic". The global "health misinformation spreading" networks on Facebook spanned five countries – the United States of America, United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy. One of the key findings of the report was that the top 10 websites spreading health misinformation attracted four times as many estimated views on Facebook as equivalent content from the 10 leading institutions in the world, such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Avaaz acknowledged that though Facebook has taken steps to control misinformation during the pandemic such as setting up of a "Control Centre" or alerting users engaging with misinformation, it also said that Facebook's algorithm was helping boost content from global misinformation spreading networks. "Facebook has so far been unwilling to disclose enough information about its algorithm for researchers to determine exactly how and why misinformation content goes viral on its platform," the report said. Facebook has said in the past that it cuts the rank of stories rated as "false", thereby leading to a 80% in fall subsequent views. However, Avaaz said the algorithm was potentially "undermining these efforts and…

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