Facebook claims that they are trying to suppress anti-vaccine messaging on its social platform, and they’ve taken actions to reduce the distribution of health-related misinformation.
In recent years, anti-vaccination groups appear on Facebook, who sharing and posting info against vaccines frequently. Accordingly, there has been a rise in cases of measles and other infectious diseases across the country. According to CNN, on Thursday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff wrote open letters to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai about his concern that the technology companies are allowing the spread of anti-vaccine misinformation.
Schiff wrote, “Facebook and Instagram are surfacing and recommending messages that discourage parents from vaccinating their children, a direct threat to public health, and reversing progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases……There is no evidence to suggest that vaccines cause life-threatening or disabling diseases, and the dissemination of unfounded and debunked theories about the dangers of vaccinations pose a great risk to public health.”
There’s no doubt that social medias become hotbeds for fake news. It seems that the lies spread like wildfire on social medias which even faster and broader than truths do. According to the study, ”true news stories took about six times longer to reach 1,500 people on Twitter than hoax stories”. So why the fake news spread so fast? Probably because the fake news is always novelty, which can catch our attention easily. However, fake news may cause real consequence. It’s said that the 2016 president election decision was influenced by online false rumors in a sort of way. It’s urgent to stop fake news spreading on the social medias and some countries already have actions. Here’s where governments are taking action to against online misinformation.
China has the laws to against misinformation. On 2013, China’s top court said people would be charged with defamation if false rumors they shared online were viewed by 5,000 internet users or reposted more than 500 times. On 2016, the government criminalized creating or spreading rumors that “undermine economic and social order”. Another law on 2017 requires social media platforms to solely republish and link to news articles from registered news media. In addition, all social medias in China contain the function that lets users report potential falsehood. Users who post false rumors will be banned from posting for up to 30 days depending on the number of repost. An account will be suspended if the user posts fake content five or more times in a three-month period.
Fake news on social media is a complex phenomenon, which might be a knotty problem of long-standing. Personally, social medias are my main approach to get news. I have addiction to social medias which provide me an opportunity to stay informed with the latest news simply by scrolling the cellphone. At the same time, social medias make me get misinformed easily. There’s no doubt that both of social media companies and government are responsible for stopping the spread of fake news. But as the user, shouldn’t we be more critical towards the online information?