Facebook removes Voices For Freedom page for spreading Covid-19 misinformation

Facebook removes Voices For Freedom page for spreading Covid-19 misinformation

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Facebook on the evening of Wednesday removed the Voices For Freedom page, which is a controversial anti-government and lockdown group dedicated to spreading mis/disinformation and false realities.

The removal comes as misinformation was rapidly being spread to undermine the government's Covid-19 Vaccine rollout and discouraging individuals from making their own choice about getting the jab to protect themselves.

Posts made by Voices For Freedom were in violation of Facebook Community Standards on misinformation about the Pandemic that could cause or contribute to physical harm.

Source: CC/ Facebook

The group actively coordinated, depicted, and admitted to promoting the deliberate spreading of transmittable diseases.

Examples were not wearing a mask on a plane, train or in public places where others health could be put at risk.

A significant focus for the group was to discourage New Zealanders from one of the most pre-eminent vaccine rollouts the country has seen.

Their dangerous messaging will no longer appear on newsfeeds of individuals sucked in because the page is now removed from the platform.

Source: CC/ Facebook

Claire Deeks, a conspiracy theorist anti-vaccine activist, founded the group in hopes to halt the vaccination rollout with lawyer Sue Grey in the spotlight.  It didn't go to plan. Undermining public health is a very dangerous game to play.

Shortly after the removal, Deeks made a statement on her personal Facebook page in a desperate plea to have government accounts ‘removed' for posting what she thinks is misinformation.

“We thought we might have received a warning or two first, but no,” she said.

“No posts removed. No warnings were received—just an unpublished status with no ability to challenge the action.”

“The reason given by Facebook was that the page promoted misinformation.”

“These groups [government social media channels and tech platforms] are themselves sharing misinformation, so we await their channels being yanked.” — this isn't true.

Source: CC/ SUPPLIED

Violence and incitement are not tolerated on the platform. Actions were taken to remove the page.

According to Community Standards, potential offline harm that may be related to content posted on the platform results in it being taken down — this includes accounts being disabled.

“We try to consider the language and context in order to distinguish casual statements from content that constitutes a credible threat to public or personal safety,” a statement says.

“As people around the world confront this unprecedented public health emergency, we want to make sure that our policies help to protect people from harmful content and new types of abuse related to Covid-19 and vaccines.”

“We’re working to remove content that contributes to the risk of real-world harm, including through our policies prohibiting coordination of harm, sale of medical masks and related goods, hate speech, bullying and harassment, and misinformation that contributes to the risk of imminent violence or physical harm.”

Source: CC/ Ministry of Health [Government Newswire]

The Pandemic allowed for the introduction of new protocols to prevent false information from being spread about vaccines.

It is a worldwide effort to address the challenges, but thanks to a growing network of more than eighty independent fact-checkers, over twelve million pieces of content were removed; dated April 19, 2021.

“Since the pandemic began, our AI systems have taken down Covid-19-related material that global health experts have flagged as misinformation and then detected copies when someone tries to share them,” a statement reads.

“We connect people to reliable information from trusted experts. Through our Covid-19 information center, notifications in people’s feeds on Facebook and Instagram, and through labels with reliable information from experts that we attach to certain posts.”

Source: CC/ SUPPLIED

thisquality contacted a Facebook company media spokesperson about the situation and received a response Thursday afternoon.

“Over the last year, we have introduced additional Covid-19, and Covid-19 vaccine claims to our list of harmful misinformation that we will remove from our platform. Specific to the Covid-19 vaccination, we do not allow false claims which public health experts have advised us could lead to Covid-19 vaccine rejection,” a Facebook company spokesperson said.

“We have removed this Page for violating our policies in that area.”

Pages, groups, profiles and Instagram accounts can face tough restrictions if they repeatedly violate the policies.

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This includes reduced distribution, removal from future recommendations or removal from the whole website.

Source: CC/ 123rf.com

Since December of 2020, a number of false claims about vaccines have been debunked, such as them not being effective at preventing the disease they are meant to protect against; It’s safer to get the disease than to get the Covid-19 vaccine; vaccines are toxic, dangerous or cause autism.

The Coordinating Harm policy prohibits content that interferes with the administration of vaccines — such as types that use a call to action text prompt, advocating, or promoting that others do not get the Covid-19 vaccine.

The media contact mentioned that the Pandemic is changing all the time, and there's going to be continuous iterations about how policies may be applied or enforced.

“We are taking additional steps to reduce the distribution of other content about vaccines that do not violate our policies. Specifically, we are taking additional steps to reduce the distribution of content that is sensationalist or alarmist about vaccines, or which disparages people on the basis of their vaccine choices,” the Facebook company spokesperson said.

“We also work to limit visibility of this content, as well as content that promotes vaccine refusals or alternatives or shares stories about adverse events or side effects after vaccination that are presented in a shocking or hyperbolic way so as to discourage vaccinations.”

“We may also reduce the distribution of Pages, Groups, and Instagram accounts that are focused on discouraging vaccinations by spreading these types of content.”

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Facebook will continue to work on removing Covid-19 misinformation that could contribute to imminent physical harm, including false claims about cures or treatments.

Image: SUPPLIED/thisquality

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