Social Media Promised To Block Covid-19 Misinformation; But They're Also Blocking Legit Info Too

from the content-moderation-is-impossible-at-scale dept

Sing it with me, folks: content moderation is impossible to do well at scale. Over the last few weeks, all of the big social media platforms have talked about their intense efforts to block misinformation about Covid-19. It appeared to be something of an all hands on deck situation for employees (mostly working from home) at these companies. Indeed, earlier this week, Facebook, Google, Linkedin, Microsoft, Reddit, Twitter, and YouTube all released a joint statement about how they’re working together to fight Covid-19 misinformation, and hoping other platforms would join in.

However, battling misinformation is not always so easy — as Facebook discovered yesterday. Yesterday afternoon a bunch of folks started noticing that Facebook was blocking all sorts of perfectly normal content, including NY Times stories about Covid-19. Now, we can joke all we want about some of the poor NY Times reporting, but to argue that its reporting on Covid-19 is misinformation would be, well, misinformation itself. There was some speculation, a la YouTube’s warning that this could be due to content moderators being sent home — and not being allowed to do their content moderation duties over privacy concerns, but the company said that it was “a bug in an anti-spam system” and was “unrelated to any changes in our content moderation workforce.” Whether you buy that or not is your choice.

Still, it’s a reminder that any effort to block misinformation is going to be fraught with problems and mistakes, and trying to adapt rapidly, especially on a big (the biggest) news story with rapidly changing factors and new information (and misinformation) all the time, is going to run into some problems sooner or later.

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Comments on “Social Media Promised To Block Covid-19 Misinformation; But They're Also Blocking Legit Info Too”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: 'You lied to me about A, why should I trust you about B?'

Depending on whether they are giving it serious attention and providing good information rather than the hatchet jobs they do when it comes to tech it may be, yes.

Your comment however does nicely highlight the problem they have created for themselves, as having shown that they can badly botch basic details on other topics their ability to provide accurate reporting and details on this subject comes into question, with people potentially dismissing anything they might say as almost certainly just as inaccurate as previous reporting, regardless of whether that’s an accurate assessment.

Anonymous Coward says:

Zuckerberg's Facebook announcement

Mark Zuckerberg

March 3 at 9:52 PM ·

I wanted to share an update on the steps we’re taking to respond to the coronavirus. This is now a global challenge and we’ve spent the past month working with health authorities to coordinate our response.

We’re focused on making sure everyone can access credible and accurate information. This is critical in any emergency, but it’s especially important when there are precautions you can take to reduce the risk of infection. If you search for coronavirus on Facebook, you’ll see a pop-up that directs you to the World Health Organization or your local health authority for the latest information. If you’re in a country where the WHO has reported person-to-person transmission, you’ll also see it in your News Feed.

Given the developing situation, we’re working with national ministries of health and organizations like the WHO, CDC and UNICEF to help them get out timely, accurate information on the coronavirus. We’re giving the WHO as many free ads as they need for their coronavirus response along with other in-kind support. We’ll also give support and millions more in ad credits to other organizations too and we’ll be working closely with global health experts to provide additional help if needed.

We’re also focused on stopping hoaxes and harmful misinformation. It’s important that everyone has a place to share their experiences and talk about the outbreak, but as our community standards make clear, it’s not okay to share something that puts people in danger. So we’re removing false claims and conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organizations. We’re also blocking people from running ads that try to exploit the situation — for example, claiming that their product can cure the disease.

As well as accessing information, we’re also looking at how people can use our services to help contribute to the broader efforts to contain the outbreak. Researchers are already using aggregated and anonymized Facebook data — including mobility data and population density maps — to better understand how the virus is spreading.

Scientific tools developed by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative can help with this too. Through a partnership between our philanthropy and the Gates Foundation, researchers in Cambodia were able to sequence the full genome of the virus that causes COVID-19 in days, making it much easier and faster for them to identify if people had the virus. The team created a new public version of the IDSeq tool so scientists everywhere can study the full genome within the broader context of coronavirus sequences uploaded around the world.

The Chan Zuckerberg Biohub has also been part of the team working to develop the cell atlas — a periodic table of different cell types in the body. As part of this work, they supported a project to map out all the cells in the lung. Researchers are now using this to investigate potential ways to limit lung damage and address the symptoms of coronavirus. This is one of the fundamental ideas behind CZI — to do basic scientific research to create building blocks that health organizations can use to find cures for diseases.

There are other ways that technology can help people adapt to the outbreak too. Communities around the world are dealing with quarantines and other disruption to their daily lives, and they’re using the internet more to stay connected even when they can’t be together in person. We know from previous emergencies — and from places where there have already been outbreaks of coronavirus across the world — that in times of crisis people rely on communication tools even more than usual. That means that as well as helping people access information, we have a responsibility to make sure our services are stable and reliable to handle this load and we take that seriously too.
There’s more we can do to help people feel less isolated and help one another and we’re working on some ideas we’ll share in the next few weeks, but for now the focus is on slowing the spread of the outbreak itself. This is a difficult time for a lot of people and I’m thinking of everyone affected by this — the people who are sick or quarantined, their friends and family and of course the healthcare workers who are always on the frontlines of any outbreak. We’ll share more updates soon.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Bat shit

Tracker Backed by Gates and Zuckerberg Tackles Covid-19

03.10.2020

Two hours later, the results rolled in. Manning stared at her computer screen at a heat map showing hits to GenBank. The darkest shade of red—indicating the most “reads”—matches between the sample and sequences in GenBank—was to the coronavirus that causes SARS. But it wasn’t an exact match. An almost equal number of reads mapped back to a coronavirus found in bats. “You could tell it’s a novel coronavirus that’s closely related to SARS but hasn’t yet been characterized,” says Manning.

.

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Anonymous Coward says:

What’s worse? A virus that passes in a few days, or an infectious ideology that lasts (for some) a lifetime. Corona vs. socialism. I say let’s develop a socialist virus test and then exterminate everyone who tests positive for socialistic tendencies before they can affect others. If you think capitalism is bad, if you hate the police, if you want more and more government control and less and less liberty and freedom, quarantine yourself by at least shutting your mouth until future notice. God bless capitalist America.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

Socialism is the idea that taxpayer funds are used collectively to benefit society as a whole — despite the income, contribution, or ability of any individual member of society.

In the United States, socialism is the publicly funded roads you drive on every day. It is the publicly funded schools that millions of children attend. It is libraries and museums, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, fire departments, law enforcement, public defenders, the courts, the military, the U.S. Postal Service, garbage collection, public parks, public transportation, PBS, the CDC, the EPA, NPR, Amtrak, the National Weather Service, and God knows how many other things you take for granted as part of everyday life.

Now imagine all of those things in the hands of capitalist corporate executives. Do you think libraries would still be free, if they were even still a thing at all? Do you think toll roads wouldn’t crop up all over the country, including within cities themselves? Do you think that all the socialist programs you take for granted every day wouldn’t be corrupted by the nakedly unashamed greed of capitalists looking to continually make more money forever?

Capitalism is Jeff Bezos hoarding billions of dollars and refusing to put any significant amount of it (if any at all) back into society out of selfish greed. Socialism is a woman who makes $50,000 a year at a full-time job giving a significant chunk of that back to society through taxes so everyone, including Jeff Bezos, can be better off. Which one sounds like the better ideology?

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Socialism is giving lazy uneducated idiots like you power over normal law abiding hard working citizens like me so you can perpetuate your leech like existence while feeding on the blood of your betters.

The great thing about a crisis is that people take sides.

Who is going to side with your convoluted bullshit rhetoric? Leave the capitalistic American that you obviously hate and move to Wuhan. I’m sure you would be happier there. They talk just like you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Socialism is a political construct defined by the governmental control of all means of production, distribution, and exchange.
It is also used in derogatory comments that attempt to disparage others.

Capitalism is an economic and political construct in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit (sometimes obscene) at the expense of the public.

btw, what do you think of the lazy uneducated idiot presently occupying the white house?

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

respect your betters

His holding the White House doesn’t make him a better person than anyone else. Unless you’d like to go on record as saying “Donald Trump is a better, more important person right now than the doctors and nurses working in American hospitals and the research doctors working on a vaccine for the coronavirus”.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

He doesn’t “hold” the White House, he holds the love and affection of the American people, who are THRILLED that he lives there.

Unlike you, you American Traitor. Are you actually Chelsea Manning? You sound a lot like her (him), and I know Mike is a fan.

You are obviously infected with some anti-American bias. You should be quarantined, or exterminated, like the traitorous rat bastard that you are. You and the rest of ‘em.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5

he holds the love and affection of the American people

He lost the popular vote by 3 million votes.

You are obviously infected with some anti-American bias.

It isn’t “anti-American” to criticize American leadership. If anything, it’s “anti-American” to act as if the president is above criticism — as if he is God.

You should be quarantined, or exterminated, like the traitorous rat bastard that you are.

And just like that, you’re exposed for who you are: someone who would easily accept violent authoritarian dictatorship if it meant people you think of as Repugnant Cultural Others would be lined up against a wall for you to execute for no reason other than irrational hatred.

You can keep kissing Trump’s ass, that’s your decision. And I’m 90% certain all of that is an act of trolling anyway. That said: It won’t win you any fans here, and it won’t make me “see the light”. I will continue to remain critical of the president, regardless of who it is, and you can neither stop me nor persuade me to change my mind. Don’t like it? Move to Russia. I hear they all love their leader out of fear, too.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

One of the hardest working, non-drinking, little sleeping, devout Christian leaders of all time, Donald J. Trump, the magnificent?

Yeah, that’s right – the big time Christian guy who paid off a whore he was sleeping with, while his current mail-order whore was nursing that fucking chud of a kid she shit out.

Show respect your betters, you ignorant foreigner virus infected socialist asshole.

Yeah sure – come at me bro.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Socialism is giving lazy uneducated idiots like you power over normal law abiding hard working citizens like me so you can perpetuate your leech like existence while feeding on the blood of your betters.

But anon, I’m not Donald Trump.

Who is going to side with your convoluted bullshit rhetoric?

It’s not convoluted. It’s pretty straightforward: Socialism is about how to best improve society as a whole for all people, whereas capitalism is about wealthy motherfuckers exploiting the working class in service of “fuck you, got mine” greed. Which one sounds like the better ideology right now?

Leave the capitalistic American that you obviously hate and move to Wuhan. I’m sure you would be happier there. They talk just like you.

Not only are you a racist ass, you’re misinformed: China is a capitalist country.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"I say let’s develop a socialist virus test and then exterminate everyone who tests positive for socialistic tendencies before they can affect others."

Your idea that people having a certain opinion should be exterminated in a global genocide is duly noted.

Remind me again how a "leftist" could possibly be worse than the "endlösung" you just suggested, beating Hitler and Stalin both?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re:

Yeah, gonna need a [Citation Needed] on that one beyond ‘one person says another person saw a bunch of posts deleted’, given between potential false positives thanks to an imperfect filter and how often a certain group has been crying foul about how the big mean old social media has it out for them only for that to turn out to be complete rubbish time and time again ‘facebook is engaging in political censorship’ doesn’t exactly have the best track record of believably.

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Anonymous Coward says:

What’s worse? A virus that passes in a few days, or an infectious ideology that lasts (for some) a lifetime. Corona vs. socialism. I say let’s develop a socialist virus test and then exterminate everyone who tests positive for socialistic tendencies before they can affect others. If you think capitalism is bad, if you hate the police, if you want more and more government control and less and less liberty and freedom, quarantine yourself by at least shutting your mouth until future notice. God bless capitalist America.

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This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Rocky says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Considering that the Russians are ramping up a misinformation-campaign about the virus and how governments are handling it I wouldn’t at all be surprised if this dude is some minimum-wage dude working in a Russian troll-factory.

And if he isn’t, he’s just doing their jobs for free which tells us a lot about his level of intelligence.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Trump is legally bound by the Constitution to serve only two terms (assuming he wins the 2020 election). I’ve heard no one besides Trump seriously suggest that he should get to legally surprass the two-term limit. How could you possibly justify the idea of “Trump forever” without pissing all over the Constitution of the United States?

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

By declaring a national emergency. By invoking the war powers act. By using common sense. It’s just not a good time for a new election. Trump is our leader for the entirety of our virus affected future.

And socialism is dead.

And health care will be cheaper.

God bless America, and our fearless (and last) duly elected president.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

By declaring a national emergency. By invoking the war powers act. By using common sense.

The power to do none of those things is found in the Constitution. Nowhere does the Constitution say, "All this stuff applies except if the government says the word ’emergency’, in which case the government can do whatever it wants’.

And the War Powers Act has no provisions for canceling an election, so that’s a loser right out of the gate.

John85851 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"How could you possibly justify the idea of “Trump forever” without pissing all over the Constitution of the United States?"
As much as I don’t like to feed the trolls, I’m afraid I have to agree with that "Trump forever" rhetoric.
Keep in mind that Trump and a large number of Republicans (including Mitch McConnell) are up for re-election in November.
Now suppose they don’t want to lose power and leave office. What would it take to stay there? How about canceling the election? But the Constitution says they can’t? Well, then, how about a national emergency where it’s not safe to leave to go outside or gather in groups? You know, like a terrorist attack or a pandemic.

Now, sure, a lot of people can do mail-in voting or absentee voting, but I’d be willing to place a large bet that Trump will use his executive power to cancel the election out of "safety". Again, it’s unconstitutional, but who’s going to tell him no? The Republican-led Senate that wants to stay in power? Doubtful. The House of Representatives who will bow to public pressure to "keep people safe"?
So, there you go- a recipe to cancel the elections in November.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

"Everyone."

That would assume a lot of civic responsibility suddenly shouldered by americans who, if recent history is any evidence, seem quite eager to abandon all pretense of such.

Voter apathy levels have always been high in the US but the rhetoric and desingenious propaganda I keep seeing these days is worse than anything I’ve seen outside of german pre-ww2 history.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

A virus that passes in a few days, or an infectious ideology that lasts (for some) a lifetime. Corona vs. socialism.

If it’s going to pass in a few days, why is trump signing a socialist bailout package?

Does he lack the testicles to say no?

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Anonymous Coward says:

Vaccine induced enhancement - not good

March 11, 2020

As pressure for coronavirus vaccine mounts, scientists debate risks of accelerated testing

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-vaccines-insight/as-pressure-for-coronavirus-vaccine-mounts-scientists-debate-risks-of-accelerated-testing-idUSKBN20Y1GZ

Studies have suggested that coronavirus vaccines carry the risk of what is known as vaccine enhancement, where instead of protecting against infection, the vaccine can actually make the disease worse when a vaccinated person is infected with the virus.

Google
vaccine induced enhancement coronavirus

.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Vaccine induced enhancement - not good

"the vaccine can actually make the disease worse"
I think that is why they do testing, but I could be wrong ya know.

I imagine this is the case with all diseases, but so what?
Are you suggesting we all just sit back and relax, maybe fiddle whilst Rome burns?

Are you regretting the polio vaccinations or maybe we should not have performed all those small pox vaccinations?
I’m positive we would all be much better off – right?

Vic says:

Censoring wrong info

Yep, that was exactly the complain from somebody I followed on FB. I know that the person is knowledgeable and did not "invent" any info but only reported on scientific articles about COVID-19. And yet FB somehow decided that it was all disinformation and censored his posts! I guess "Mark knows better" than all those scientists!

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Censoring wrong info

I imagine it’s similar to dealing with nurgle cultists, in that both them and those that actually have real science on their side are using the same words it’s just the context that changes the message, so that any filter is likely to end up catching both and one can only hope that it catches those on the wrong side more and more as the filter is fine-tuned.

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