Conspiracy theorist tactics show it’s too easy to get around Facebook’s content policies

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During the COVID pandemic, social media platforms were swarmed by far-right and anti-vaccination communities that spread dangerous conspiracy theories.

These included the false claims that vaccines are a form of population control, and that the virus was a “deep state” plot. Governments and the World Health Organization redirected precious resources from vaccination campaigns to debunk these falsehoods.

As the tide of misinformation grew, platforms were accused of not doing enough to stop the spread. To address these concerns, Meta, the parent company of Facebook, made several policy announcements in 2020–21. However, it hesitated to remove “borderline” content, or content that didn’t cause direct physical harm, save for one policy change in February 2021 that expanded the content removal lists.

To stem the tide, Meta continued to rely more heavily on algorithmic moderation techniques to reduce the visibility of misinformation in users’ feeds, search and recommendations – known as shadowbanning. They also used fact-checkers to label misinformation.

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