Facebook broadcast a sweeping pledge in a Feb. 8 blog post: It would remove false claims about vaccines
from its platform. The declaration followed a series of promises over the preceding months to curb bogus health information on its site, particularly misinformation surrounding the pandemic. This included a commitment in September
to stop recommending “health groups” in order to halt the practice of people turning to fellow Facebook users, instead of doctors, for medical advice.
But data from The Markup’s Citizen Browser project
shows that not only is COVID-19 misinformation still easy to find on Facebook, the company has also continued to recommend health groups to its users, including blatantly anti-vaccine groups and pages explicitly founded to propagate lies about the pandemic.
Citizen Browser consists of a nationwide panel of Facebook users who automatically share their news feed data with The Markup, including which groups the platform recommends they join.
Even in this relatively small subset of 3,156 Facebook users, we found hundreds of health groups recommended to our panelists, including 31 groups or pages that contained anti-vaccine or anti-mask propaganda and misinformation about the pandemic. The recommendations we tracked occurred between Nov. 15 and May 1, including at least seven after Facebook’s latest announced crackdown in February….