In this time of uncertainty, fake news can be very dangerous. Understanding its role in spreading information especially amid the pandemic, Facebook is stepping in. The social media giant said it shut down a disinformation operation which sought to spread COVID-19 vaccine hoaxes by duping social media influencers into backing false claims, as per Philstarlife.com.
Facebook labeled the operation a “disinformation laundromat” which sought to legitimize false claims by pushing them through people with clean reputations. Influencers who caught on to the campaign turned out to be the undoing of a deceitful influence campaign orchestrated by marketing firm Fazze in Russia, according to Facebook.
“The assumption was the influencers wouldn’t do any of their own homework, but two did,” Facebook global threat intelligence lead Ben Nimmo said. “It’s really a warning — be careful when someone is trying to spoon-feed you a story. Do your own research.”
In turn, Facebook removed 65 accounts at the leading social network and 243 accounts at photo-centric Instagram that were linked to the campaign, and banned Fazze from its platform.
As per Facebook, last year, Fazze took advantage of online platforms including Reddit, Medium, Change.org, and Facebook, creating misleading articles and petitions then providing “influencers’ ‘ with links, hashtags and more to spread vaccine misinformation, according to Nimmo. “In effect, this campaign functioned as a cross-platform disinformation laundromat,” Nimmo said.
The news comes amid a spat between Facebook and the US administration over reining in virus misinformation, and government efforts to enlist popular social media characters to promote vaccinations.
Given how most people have been reading the news via social media, it’s only dutiful for Facebook to step in, and ensure that the public doesn’t get fed with false information, and deceptive propaganda. Let’s hope dangerous campaigns like that of Fazze don’t reach people who don’t know any better.