Facebook is going to delete posts and stories accusing medical researchers of fraud and/or knowingly conducting a conspiracy on an incurable illness—namely, the viral HIV-causing virus HIV/AIDS.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the social media platform plans to take down posts and stories alleging fraud by scientists who study the incurable virus, and that such researchers have published false data. The purported scientific fraud included studies that purported to prove that HIV/AIDS is curable through intravenous drugs or the use of chimeric stem cells. The post removal program will allegedly replace Facebook’s current practice of banning certain content from the site entirely, and it will not affect the social media company’s hunt for Russian propaganda.
Proponents of the viral HIV-causing hoaxes and alleged research fraud will likely be pretty pleased with Facebook’s decision to prevent access to their wares. Along with Social media giants Instagram and Google+, the Silicon Valley conglomerate accounts for a majority of all social media’s ad revenues, but it has come under fire for inconsistencies on content removal and its role in spreading misinformation. In a bid to combat misinformation, Facebook has hired fact-checkers to review articles on its platform before they go live and is also working to create an entity that will manage anti-bullying and hate speech policies on its site.
While no official announcement on how the new anti-viral conspiracy theory content review policy will operate has been made, social media executives told the Journal that the program will halt or otherwise slow online publication of “false or misleading information that has the potential to cause serious harm, and harm someone’s reputation,” according to the report. Facebook told the Journal that the current ban on such anti-viral content does not apply to any of the roughly 9 million posts to date.
Prominent antivaccination activists who rely on the viral content to promote their pseudoscience just so happen to be vocal Facebook users and also recipients of Facebook advertising. To date, the pseudoscience has focused on antivaccinationists believing the government and scientific community deliberately changed the diagnosis, instead of the virus. However, a new article published by Lacey McPherson, the senior research scientist for the EBSCO Health, found that the cure is actually pretty much the same as the vaccine.
“These false and misleading portrayals of medical and health science are particularly harmful to science-based communities and people,” McPherson, who started her own community site called ScienceParentBuzz, told the Journal. “What happens is that people will be silenced in social media and online outlets that they use to share information, and they will often become less likely to participate in the public discourse.”
Facebook has announced it will be having a moderator-allergy discussion on its website as part of the new program. They plan to invite representatives from various sectors and make sure everyone who shares content under the “This is Science” page agrees that the topic is neither false nor misleading.