Facebook public health threat study concludes coronavirus ‘fake news' has received more than 3.800 million visits - Health disinformation on Facebook has been visited more than 3,800 million times throughout 2020, reaching its peak and peak traffic during the COVID-19 crisis. According to a report prepared by the civil organization Avaaz, the social network algorithm itself, as well as the lax measures of media verification, would be protecting the negative movements of the pandemic in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy —where the study is being prepared— but could have crossed their borders and influenced other countries, such as Spain.

The group, known for its activist encouragement in the United States, where it has commanded actions against climate change and in favor of human rights and peace, says that the social network led by Mark Zuckerberg could pose a "great threat" to public health by allowing disinformation within it. The conflict comes a long way, as Facebook has been boycotted by its advertisers in recent times for sheltering white supremacist groups and fake news that play against the fight against the coronavirus, among others.

Zuckerberg argues that his company, as a social network, should not be responsible for the content it publishes —as users are— but in recent months there have been dissenting voices on the issue, assuming that Facebook actually works as a publisher, so it should take responsibility.

Read More: Facebook works as a publisher and should be responsible for the content it publishes, according to the founder of the world's largest advertising company

According to doctors consulted by the organization, the fake news distributed through Facebook would be doing a disservice to the fight against COVID-19, especially by stimulating anti-smoking and anti-mask movements. However, in the eyes of the social network, the research findings "do not reflect the measures we have taken [to address misinformation]"

Facebook public health threat study concludes

"We share Avaaz's goal of limiting misinformation. Thanks to our global network of verifiers we have applied warning labels to 98 million pieces of erroneous information about coronavirus, we have removed 7 million contents [...], we have directed more than 2 billion people to health authorities and, when someone tries to share a link on COVID-19, we show them a pop-up to connect them with truthful health information, " the company has defended.

Despite his efforts, Avaaz's report suggests that only 16% of the health misinformation he identified on Facebook was wearing a warning label. This refers to the last measure approved by the verifiers team, which is to publicly warn in each post that the post might not be reliable. In the end, it is of little use, as the negationist groups continue to visit and disseminate the information, since they assume that the traditional media are part of a conspiracy to spread a false disease.

As a result, the top 10 websites identified by Avaaz as spreading health misinformation had almost 4 times more visits on Facebook than official sites, such as the World Health Organization (who), according to the report. Public pages are also not exempt from fake news, especially in the United States, where 42 of these sites shared fake news to more than 28 million people.

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Among all the bullies spread by the social network.

Avaaz campaign director Fadi Quran has made clear that " Facebook's algorithm is a major public health threat [even though] Mark Zuckerberg promised to provide reliable information during the pandemic."

"Despite this, its algorithm is sabotaging these efforts by leading many of Facebook's 2.7 billion users to health misinformation networks. This infodemia will have serious effects on the pandemic unless Facebook detoxifies its algorithm and provides corrections to all those exposed to these viral lies, " Quran emphasizes.

In addition to the obvious claim to end fake news, or at least hide it, one of the biggest proclamations of Avaaz is that the social network provides verified and independent corrections to all users who have been victims of disinformation.

"This pandemic should be a powerful reminder of how successful the vaccines have been, but instead the anti-vaccine are using Facebook to spread toxic lies and conspiracy theories," laments Frank Ulrich Montgomery, president of the World Medical Association (WMA), speaking to the BBC.

In this regard, the Facebook defense insists that the social network is doing everything it can to combat the health myths that play against the coronavirus and make a star argument: if you put the word "vaccines" in their search box, the first information that appears is always verified and reliable.

This reasoning, however, has trick, since the most common News broadcast on Facebook is not from direct search —no one is looking for "vaccine" in the search box of the social network; in any case they do it on Google— but in the timeline of each user and the walls of their friends, which are conditioned by the infamous algorithm.

An example of this is the "Kate Shemirani" page, a personal site where her administrator calls herself a"natural nurse in a toxic world." The space, which was awarded by the algorithm a few weeks ago and appeared in virtually every profile of the negationist community, also appeared in search engines for being a supposedly reliable entity; in the end, Sherimani was revoked his nursing permit for disseminating false information.

The paths of disinformation on Facebook take different paths, but always converge in the negationism of the coronavirus, or at least in diminishing its importance, sometimes even from the administrations themselves seeking an electoral revenue, like that of Donald Trump. From the conspiracy around vaccines to the anti-mask movements, conspiracies are growing every day. It remains to be seen what the passive managers of its dissemination will do to avoid it.

End of Facebook public health threat study concludes


New cheat on WhatsApp: this is the innocent SMS that could endanger your account

A new scam could jeopardize your WhatsApp account. Cybercrime does not rest in the summer and should be aware of all the deceptions that happen day by day so as not to fall into them.

This new scam is carried out through an SMS verification code that reaches the user's phone. At the same time, you receive a WhatsApp message from the alleged support service of the application, as detailed from the security company Panda Security.

This message says that someone has registered a WhatsApp account with the same phone number as yours, and that you need to provide them with the verification code you just received.

This verification code only serves to give control of your account to cybercriminals, who might not otherwise steal it from you. That is, from the very moment you send the code you lose your WhatsApp account.

From then on hackers will have access to all your conversations and the list of users you have in the app. So they can continue to spread the deception or use your identity for other types of goals.

“This is a very smart attack, because cybercriminals use the company's own security measures to turn them into a vulnerability, " said Hervé Lambert, Global Consumer Operations Manager at Panda Security.

The identity of each WhatsApp user is linked to their phone number, so the app cannot work on more than one of these devices at the same time.

Because of this, every time you change your mobile or reinstall the app, WhatsApp asks you for a verification with a 6-digit code sent by SMS. It's a condition that you can't Skip to use the app on your new phone.

Therefore, if you are not in this situation you do not have to receive or send any code to verify your identity. If you're trying to get yourself into a hoax, you should either ignore the message or put it in the hands of the Civil Guard's Telematics Crimes Section.

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