Enough of Facebook. It is not me, who could, but a campaign that accuses Mark Zuckerberg’s company of not treating with the same seriousness the disinformation that is published on its social network in English as that shared in Spanish.
And that we recently learned of his latest project to fight fake news on COVID-19, in collaboration with the World Health Organization and for which he launched a website: yes, also in Spanish.
Here is the big contradiction of Facebook.
Sing mea culpa
They say the first step to solving a problem is to recognize that it exists. A week ago, Facebook released a statement to announce Together against disinformation on Covid-19, your new information campaign to fight fake news.
To do this, the company has partnered with WHO and, with the help of several European information verification partners, aims to give its users advice on how to verify sources, understand the context. and to manage the emotions that a news makes them feel.
Facebook gives advice.
Just on entering the web page that Facebook has created for this purpose, we find this message: “Measures against disinformation in our applications.” Below, the company details what the three components of its strategy consist of:
- “Remove content that violates our community rules”
- “Reduce the distribution of content marked as fake”
- “Educate people so they can decide what to read, what to trust and what to share”
All good intentions, right?
Spanish speaking communities at risk
Some will call it good intentions; others strategy marketing pure and hard.
A new Avaaz study called it “media blitz“, That is to say” media blitz. “Or what is the like: an attempt to change public opinion of the social network, considered by many to be the breeding ground for conspiracy theories and far-right movements.
The authors of How Facebook can flatten the coronavirus infodemic curve analyzed more than 100 pieces of information considered to be false and concluded that millions of users come into contact with misinformation about the coronavirus.
Specifically, this report ensures that Spanish-speaking citizens are more likely to receive this type of information, since Facebook does not mark this content as fake 70% of the time when it is in Spanish.
This has alerted politicians and activists, especially in the United States. This is why the #YaBastaFacebook campaign was launched, although the risk also exists for users of WhatsApp and Instagram, owned by Facebook, Inc.
Free Press co-director Jessica J González harshly criticized Facebook for “allowing its platform to be used to amplify hatred and misinformation towards and in our community,” the Latina.
It should be remembered that Spanish is the second language of the number of United States speakers after English. But while the social network marks 70% of fake news as disinformation in that language, in Spanish it only does so in 30%.
The danger is real when we consider that this circulating disinformation is above all conspiracies on the vaccine against the coronavirus.
One of the visible faces of this campaign, Democratic Representative from California Tony Cárdenas, explained that he suffered the consequences in first person when his mother-in-law asked him about the microchip they allegedly implanted during the vaccination . I had read it online.
The previous ones
“It’s bad enough in English, but in Spanish terms they hardly do anything,” Cárdenas says for TIME. “And it’s going to potentially get worse. Unless the private entities that run these platforms take more responsibility, we will see another big manipulation in the next election. “
Cárdenas has not forgotten what happened in the last one.
For the 2020 general election, the Latin community in the United States was bombarded with false information about Joe Biden, who for many has become the leader of socialism, the great enemy of those who fled the Cuba of the Castros.
He was reported to the FBI by Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Joaquín Castro, respectively representatives for Florida and Texas, who believed that Florida Latinos had been subjected to false or misleading information to vote for Donald Trump.
I especially recommend this VICE News report for more context:
But Cárdenas also doesn’t want Zuckerberg to ignore what happened. On March 25, the CEO of Facebook will sit before the House of Representatives and the politician is clear on what he is going to ask: what he is going to do to protect his Spanish-speaking users.
Facebook’s big lie?
The relationship between Facebook and the US election goes a long way. As explained in the Netflix documentary The big hack, the social network would have played a key role in giving victory to Trump in 2016.
You might think Zuckerberg’s company would have learned its lesson. But not only did he not, but he did not remedy it and it was repeated again in 2020. And now the Latin American community is the most affected.
Admittedly, Facebook is not the only social network accused of providing a platform for fake news and conspiracy theories. The case of Parler, accused of being at the origin of the violence which led to the storming of the Capitol in January, was notorious.
Facebook isn’t alone in trying to fight fake news (or at the very least, make it look like it), either. After permanently banning Trump from his service, Twitter launched the Birdwatch feature for users to help them find fake content.
Given this and the big lies the internet companies have, the best we can do is protect ourselves. It might be ironic, but the advice from the new Facebook campaign can help: Don’t believe everything you read and don’t share what hasn’t been verified.
But that does not eliminate Facebook’s liability. Of responsibility and guilt, he has a lot. You have to do something to solve it, also in Spanish.