Bodybag protest held outside Facebook HQ over Covid disinformation

·2-min read

Protestors left body bags labelled “Disinfo kills” outside Facebook’s headquarters in Washington DC in response to Covid-19 misinformation believed to be hosted on their website.

Real Facebook Oversight Board, a group of academics, experts and civil rights activists united with their worry about Facebook’s unchecked power, organised the protest.

This follows on from President Biden saying that Facebook was “killing people” with the misinformation it hosted. He later went on to clarify that he was talking about the accounts and not the social media platform itself.

It is believed that Mr Biden was referring to a report by the Center for Countering Digital Hate, which listed a “disinformation dozen”; 12 people thought to be responsible for 73 per cent of all anti-vaxx theories on the site. High profile names on this list include Robert F Kennedy Jr, the son of Robert F Kennedy and nephew of President John F Kennedy.

Someone walks through the bodybag demonstration outside Facebook headquarters in Washington, DC (Jim Bourg/Reuters)
Someone walks through the bodybag demonstration outside Facebook headquarters in Washington, DC (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

Twitter posts shared by the group include pictures from the protest with the body bags that appear to symbolise the destruction caused by social media sites displaying misinformation to its users about Covid-19 and the vaccines.

“Body bags line the street. Facebook disinformation kills,” reads the caption of the photographs.

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This demonstration and the release of the report cited by the president come just before Facebook announced its earnings for the year’s second quarter. They earnt $28.58 billion in revenue, a 56 per cent increase from the year before.

Andy Stone, spokesperson for Facebook, replied to the protest’s post on Twitter, calling it “cheap stunts”.

“Nothing if not consistent, the RFOB said they’d engage in cheap stunts and, lo and behold, they’re doing exactly that. Here’s the truth about the steps, not stunts, we’re taking to address this serious issue,” he wrote in reply.

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In a statement to The Independent, Facebook elaborated on their efforts to reduce misinformation about Covid-19.

“We permanently ban Pages, Groups, and accounts that repeatedly break our rules on COVID misinformation, and this includes more than a dozen Pages, Groups, and accounts from these individuals” the company said.

Currently, the rate of vaccination is lagging across the country, causing Dr Rachel Walensky, director of the CDC, to label the rise in cases a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”.

This follows on from her announcement that preliminary data shows that 99.5 per cent of covid related deaths happen among the unvaccinated.

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