5 Times Facebook Didn’t Fact Check Coronavirus Fake News

The Avaaz rights group placed cardboard cutouts of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg outside the US Capitol in Washington last year, calling attention to what they say are many millions of fake accounts spreading disinformation on Facebook
Saul Loeb/AFP

As the Chinese virus pandemic has swept across the world, there’s been a familiar panic about “misinformation” on social media. Yet certain types of misinformation — in particular the types that could damage President Donald Trump and Republicans — seem immune to crackdowns by the Masters of the Universe.

Facebook stands out as a company that has publicly touted its “misinformation” policy in recent years. As the Chinese virus crisis took off, the company leaped into action with a plan to “combat misinformation” and “connect users to accurate information.”

Yet some misinformation seems to be able to infest Facebook in broad daylight, without any sign of a crackdown from the all-powerful tech giant. Like the media-orchestrated smear of the Covington high school kids, some forms of misinformation appear to be immune from the tech giants.

1. CBS uses footage of an Italian hospital in stories about coronavirus outbreaks in the U.S.

One of the easiest ways to trick viewers is to use footage of a different, but similar event to illustrate a current one. That’s what CBS did when they used chaotic footage from an Italian hospital in not one but two reports about the coronavirus in New York City and Pennsylvania. Even the left-wing fact-checker Snopes called CBS out on this — but there weren’t any “fact check” labels on the story on Facebook.

2. ABC reports that Trump knew about the virus in November 

Last week, ABC news ran a story claiming that the U.S. intelligence community knew about the Chinese virus as early as November, and prepared a report on the matter. ABC’s sources were, as per usual, anonymous. Anonymous sources can sometimes provide true information, of course, but not this time — as Breitbart News’s Kristina Wong reported, the National Center for Medical Intelligence made a rare departure from its policy of not commenting on specific intelligence matters in order to publicly debunk the story. Nevertheless, it remains in circulation on Facebook where it has accumulated thousands of shares — without any “fact check” labels or warnings to those sharing it.

3. Mainstream media reports false claims of Instagram influencer claiming to be employed nurse 

As Breitbart News recapped over the weekend, the media has repeated false claims from an Instagram influencer claiming to be a nurse employed at Northwestern Medical. As she admitted later, she hadn’t been employed at the hospital for over a year prior to the video. Mainstream media stories about the fake nurse continue to circulate on Facebook, without any official fact-checks or warnings.

4. HuffPo claims Trump personally profits from hydroxychloroquine 

A story from HuffPo about President Trump’s purported stake in a drugmaker, Sanofi, that produces hydroxychloroquine, the drug touted by Trump and others as a potential cure for the Chinese virus, has accumulated more than 24,000 shares on Facebook. The claim that Trump stands to profit from sales of hydroxychloroquine had attracted viral attention from left-wingers on social media ahead of the story. There’s just one problem — Trump’s stake in Sanofi is negligible, ranging from $1,425 at the most to $99.10 at the least, via ownership of a mutual fund. Snopes, known for its left-wing bias, rates the claim that Trump benefits financially from promoting the drug as “mostly false.” Facebook’s fact-checkers seem to feel differently: they still haven’t fact-checked HuffPo’s story.

5. China blames Trump for the Chinese virus

Both the mainstream media and Facebook’s fact-checkers have thus far failed to provide any significant pushback against the official coronavirus numbers coming from China, which many conservatives have pointed out are far too low to be taken seriously. That’s a side-effect of treating official statistics as “authoritative” without question, as most of the mainstream media and fact-checkers do. But Facebook has done more than that — it’s refused to do anything to check the spread of Chinese propaganda on its platform blaming President Trump for the spread of the virus. Not only did Facebook not take the ads down (would they have been so lenient if they were Russian?), but the company initially didn’t even label them as “political.”

Are you an insider at Google, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, or any other tech company who wants to confidentially reveal wrongdoing or political bias at your company? Reach out to Allum Bokhari at his secure email address allumbokhari@protonmail.com

Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.

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