Facebook scientists asked to study COVID-19 misinformation at the beginning of the pandemic, but Facebook ignored them, a report says

Facebook CEO Mark

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Early in the pandemic, data scientists at Facebook asked for
resources to monitor COVID-19 misinformation on the platform, but
were ignored by leadership, according to a report from
The New York Times

The Times spoke to two people who were present at a meeting where
data scientists asked for resources to study the spread of
COVID-19 misinformation. The data scientists asked for new hires
and to assign some current employees to the project, but
management never approved it, and never gave an explanation, the
people told The Times.

White House officials and experts have urged Facebook to share
its own data about the spread and prevalence of misinformation.

It is not clear whether Facebook packages that data so it can be
usefully studied.

One source told The Times that Facebook has the raw data, but
hasn’t put resources towards defining and labeling

Facebook is currently fighting the Biden administration over
whether it’s doing enough to combat COVID-19 misinformation. When
asked on Friday what his message to companies like Facebook was,

President Joe Biden said: “you’re killing people.”

walked that statement back on Monday
, saying key people who
spread anti-vaxx misinformation on Facebook were killing people.

Read more:
These 7 powerful people are
behind Biden’s bid to break up Big Tech

Biden cited a March study by
the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) which
said the majority of anti-vaxx information on Facebook was
generated by just 12 high-profile individuals.

Facebook shot back at Biden, accusing him of
using the company as a scapegoat
to explain away missing his
goal of vaccinating 70% of the adult US population by July 4.

In a
blog post
on Saturday, Facebook’s vice president of integrity
Guy Rosen claimed a survey conducted by Facebook and two
universities showed
vaccine hesitancy among its users had dropped 50%
during the

A Facebook spokeswoman told The Times: “The suggestion we haven’t
put resources toward combating Covid misinformation and
supporting the vaccine rollout is just not supported by the

“With no standard definition for vaccine misinformation, and with
both false and even true content (often shared by mainstream
media outlets) potentially discouraging vaccine acceptance, we
focus on the outcomes — measuring whether people who use Facebook
are accepting of COVID-19 vaccines.”

Facebook did not immediately respond when contacted by Insider
for comment on The Times’ report.

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