PROTESTERS have lined up bodybags outside Facebook's headquarters to urge the tech giant to stop the spread of Covid vaccine lies.
The demonstrators – who call themselves The Real Facebook Oversight Board – lined the sidewalk in Washington with bags that read "disinfo kills."
Activist Shireen Mitchell said: "People are making decisions based on the disinformation that’s being spread on Facebook.
"If Facebook is not going to take that down, or if all they’re going to do is put out disclaimers, then fundamentally Facebook is participating in these deaths as well."
In May it was reported that two thirds of anti-vaccine fake news and conspiracy theories come from the same 12 people.
They were branded the "disinformation dozen" by experts at the Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), which identified the accounts.
Once posted, the dangerous lies they create proliferate on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Overcoming the pandemic can only be achieved with a high vaccine uptake, a challenge that may be impeded by online misinformation.
According to the CCDH, the disinformation dozen are responsible for 65 per cent of shares of anti-vaccine posts on social media.
'TIDAL WAVE OF DISINFORMATION'
"A tiny group of determined anti-vaxxers is responsible for a tidal wave of disinformation," the non-profit's chief executive Imran Ahmed said.
They are "abusing social media platforms to misrepresent the threat of Covid and spread misinformation about the safety of vaccines," he added.
Researchers analysed more than 812,000 posts on Facebook and Twitter published between February 1 and March 16, 2021.
Of the 689,000 anti-vaxx Facebook posts extracted by the team, 73 per cent originated from the disinformation dozen.
Of 120,000 tweets spreading misinformation about vaccines, 17 per cent featured one of the leading anti-jab personalities.
The influential accounts boast large numbers of followers and produce high volumes of anti-vaccine content.
And while they aren't responsible for every anti-vaxx post, the majority of the false rumours within them are said to have begun with one of the 12 people.
Originally released in March, the research was published to urge leaders at social media platforms to take action against the offending accounts.
Facebook says it has banned anti-vaxx content from its platform, while Twitter blocks users who repeatedly tweet misinformation about Covid vaccines.
"Social media is enabling anti-vaxxers to recruit millions of Americans and indoctrinate them with fear and doubt," Ahmed said earlier this year.
"If Big Tech companies don't act now, the pandemic will be prolonged, and more lives will be lost."
According to the CCDH, it was a failure of Big Tech that the accounts are not being taken down more aggressively despite breaching their platforms' terms of service.
Many of the individuals operate highly-organised teams chasing a quick buck at the expense of people's health and safety.
"The key protagonists in the 'anti-vaxx industry' are a coherent group of professional propagandists," Ahmed wrote in an article in Nature Medicine earlier this year.
"These are people running multi-million-dollar organizations, incorporated mainly in the USA, with as many as 60 staff each.
"They produce training manuals for activists, tailor their messages for different audiences, and arrange meetings akin to annual trades conferences, like any other industry."
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