FACEBOOK has repeatedly refused to remove two groups flooding the social media platform with false claims about coronavirus.
The social media giant has decided not to remove an anti-vaccine group that promotes websites selling “yogurt suppositories” to protect against Covid-19 and content peddling a raft of myths.
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The We Brought Vaxxed to the UK group also promoted videos falsely claiming hand sanitiser “doesn’t work” and “causes cancer and heart disease” and other fake news websites reporting that vitamin C cures the virus.
The group was set up to promote a documentary by the discredited anti-vaxxer Andrew Wakefield, who claimed the MMR vaccine caused autism in the 1990s.
Conspiracy theories about the origins of coronavirus, including dismissals of the virus as a “hoax” were also allowed to stay on the group’s site.
Other posts hosted by the group included content discouraging members from the flu vaccine, including the claim that it makes patients more likely to catch the bug.
Advice that antipyretics “weaken the immune system and response and predispose the patient to further infections” were also posted.
They were among the posts identified by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), a fake news monitoring group, which sent a dossier to Facebook requesting they be removed.
Facebook claimed last night that they had removed the posts but they were still up this morning.
But just two pieces of content from the We Brought Vaxxed to the UK group have been removed by Facebook, despite the social media giant claiming last week that they were “continuously working to remove harmful misinformation about Covid-19 content from this group”.
The only two posts that were removed by Facebook was one that said gargling warm salt water cured the illness overnight and another advised who had contracted the virus to take malaria drugs.
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Another group exposed by the CCDH was Coronavirus UK, which was set up to share information about the new virus but has been used to spread claims that the virus was a bio-weapon and was part of a plan to bring around “one world order”.
It also includes false medical advice, including that: drinking or gargling warm water kills viruses; temperatures of 26/27 degrees Celsius kill the virus; that vitamin C and hydrogen pyroxide will cure Covid-19; and discouraging victims of fever from taking anti-pyretics.
CCDH patron Rachel Riley said: “In such high stakes times, it’s important that people are as protected as possible from those seeking to exploit the situation, using misinformation and fear to gain followers and make money.
“Knowingly allowing baseless “medical” claims to remain up in groups attracting thousands of susceptible people is both reckless and irresponsible and will inevitably lead to the loss of innocent lives.”
A spokesman for Facebook said: “Harmful misinformation is not allowed on our platforms. We have deleted all of the content shared with us that breached our stringent harmful misinformation policies. We have partnered with the NHS to connect people to the latest official NHS guidance around coronavirus – both directly in their News Feeds and when people search on the topic to ensure people have accurate information."
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