Back in March, the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) published a report linking more than two-thirds of online vaccine misinformation to 12 individuals. That statistic has since been widely cited, including by lawmakers and government officials, as proof that Facebook is unable to control COVID-19 vaccine lies.
Now, five months later, Facebook says it has blocked more than 36 accounts, groups and pages associated with these "super-spreaders" of misinformation. The company says it has taken other actions to make other content associated with these people less visible.
Facebook has disagreed with the CCDH report since its publication, disputing its methodology and conclusions. In its latest statement, the social network said there is "no evidence" to support the report's claim that 73 percent of vaccine misinformation is linked to a group that includes Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Joseph Mercola, Del Bigtree and other well-known anti-vaccine activists.
Nevertheless, the report has become a headache for the company, as the U.S. Surgeon General was quoted last month in a public health advisory warning the public against misinformation about vaccines online. Overall, the company has removed about 3,000 groups, pages and accounts for repeatedly violating rules prohibiting COVID-19 and misinformation about vaccines during a pandemic, though the company has yet to share statistics on how often such misinformation is viewed.
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