Selena Gomez Urges Facebook to Stop Spread of ‘Lies’ About Covid-19

Facebook has been the target of criticism for showing all types of political ads, even those that have contained lies and misinformation

Selena Gomez

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Vogue Australia 2016/Grace Otto

Facebook has been the target of criticism for showing all types of political ads, even those that have contained lies and misinformation. Now Selena Gomez is calling out the social media platform for spreading “lies” about the coronavirus. On Tuesday she retweeted a video where the Center for Countering Digital Hate CEO Imi Ahmed tells BBC News during an interview that the public is being “gaslit” by social media companies who claim “they’re doing their utmost” to stop the spread of misinformation when “in reality, they’re doing absolutely nothing.” Ahmed is on the taskforce for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport in the United Kingdom that put together to look at misinformation and they found that only five percent of the information was taken down.

“Scientific disinformation has and will cost lives. Facebook said they don’t allow lies about COVID and vaccines to be spread on their platforms. So how come all of this is still happening? Facebook is going to be responsible for thousands of deaths if they don’t take action now!” Gomez tweeted.

In a report from the task force, they found there were several harmful consequences from the spread of misinformation affecting not only the public but also frontline workers. “Early examples of misinformation during the pandemic often misled people about cures or preventative measures to infection. Some people have mistakenly turned to unproven home remedies, stopped taking ibuprofen and prescribed medicine, or elsewise ingested harmful chemicals such as disinfectant,” they wrote.

They also shared that they corresponded with Facebook questioning the company on how they define “harmful misinformation” and “imminent physical harm” in their policies. They also report they found inconsistencies in the standards across social media platforms — it’s worth noting Facebook owns Instagram since 2012 and WhatsApp since 2014. Facebook has more than 2.7 billion users while Instagram has 1 billion users.

Back in September, Gomez shared a screenshot of a private message she sent to Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg asking them to stop allowing “misinformation” and “hate speech” to be shared on the platform.

“It’s been a while since we sat down. We have a serious problem,” the singer wrote in the message shared on Instagram. Gomez also claimed the two social media platforms “are being used to spread hate, misinformation, racism, and bigotry.”

Facebook’s policy has been to remove false claims about Covid-19 that it says could lead to “imminent physical harm,” such as posts promoting false cures. The company removed 12 million posts as a result of this policy between March and October, CNBC reported earlier this month. On Nov. 30 Zuckerberg announced Facebook would show its users “authoritative information about the vaccines,”  without providing information on how they would go about doing that.

Since the release of the vaccine, the company said it will “start removing false claims about these vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts on Facebook and Instagram.” They added, “This could include false claims about the safety, efficacy, ingredients or side effects of the vaccines,” the company said in a blog post. “For example, we will remove false claims that COVID-19 vaccines contain microchips, or anything else that isn’t on the official vaccine ingredient list.”

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