Facebook Releases Shelved Transparency Report on Top Posts

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After going through widespread criticism, Facebook has unveiled a transparency report that it initially shelved about the preferred posts on its public News Feed within the U.S. in the course of the first quarter of 2021. The report gives a glimpse into how far misinformation in regards to the covid-19 vaccine has unfold on-line.

As first reported by the New York Times, which revealed a bombshell expose on Friday after acquiring a replica of the then-unreleased report, the most-viewed hyperlink on Facebook between January and March was a since-updated information article suggesting that the vaccine could also be at fault for a Florida physician’s dying. The hyperlink racked up practically 54 million views throughout this era.

According to Facebook’s report, among the many prime 20 most visited pages on the platform in the course of the first quarter was the Epoch Times, a website that routinely pushes misinformation in regards to the covid-19 pandemic and far-right conspiracies corresponding to QAnon.

On Saturday, Facebook coverage communications director Andy Stone tweeted that the criticism Facebook has confronted for initially holding the report “wasn’t unfair,” however added that defining misinformation is a fancy course of:

“News outlets wrote about the south Florida doctor that died. When the coroner released a cause of death, the Chicago Tribune appended an update to its original story; NYTimes did not. Would it have been right to remove the Times story because it was COVID [misinformation]? Of course not. No one is actually suggesting this and neither am I. But it does illustrate just how difficult it is to define misinformation.”

Stone mentioned that Facebook didn’t launch the report earlier as a result of there have been “key fixes to the system” that the corporate needed to make. He didn’t go into additional element about what these adjustments had been precisely however posted a link to the report on Twitter. In an announcement to the Washington Post, he mentioned one change concerned fixing a technical bug however declined to elaborate additional.

On Twitter, Stone pointed to “slight differences” between this shelved report and the second-quarter report Facebook did publicly launch earlier this week, including that Facebook hopes to see much more progress within the third quarter. Facebook launched its Q2 report on Aug. 18 displaying the preferred posts within the U.S. from April to June, which paints the corporate in a extra flattering mild. The Epoch Times nonetheless makes an look, its subscription web page rating among the many prime 10 most seen hyperlinks, however a lot of the top-performing posts concerned memes, recipes, heartwarming tales about animals, and, for some purpose, storefronts for CBD merchandise and Christianity-themed attire.

However, no matter “key fixes” Facebook made between the 2 studies isn’t instantly clear. Comparing them facet by facet, their codecs are practically an identical. Facebook makes use of totally different phrase decisions to clarify its findings, however its presentation of the information itself stays unchanged. Facebook didn’t instantly return Gizmodo’s request for remark.

It seems the one purpose this primary report ever even noticed the sunshine of day was due to the backlash to Facebook patting itself on the again for its transparency with the second report whereas burying an information set that made it look unhealthy. To wit, Facebook vp Guy Rosen touted the social community as “the far most transparent platform on the internet” in an announcement to the Post earlier this week.

“We’re guilty of cleaning up our house a bit before we invited company,” Stone wrote on Twitter. “We’ve been criticized for that; and again, that’s not unfair… given the interest in the first version of the report we did not release, we’ve decided to just make it public. It’s not gleaming, but we’re trying to make progress.”

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