BBC Collaborates with Facebook to Purge Vaccine-Injured Groups Online

A major media member of the Trusted News Initiative (TNI) has warned a primary tech member about vaccine injury groups gaming the system to avoid algorithm detection and thus scrutiny.

In what could be described as a dangerous move, the BBC collaborates with Facebook to shut down vaccine injury support groups by universally referring to them as “anti-vaccine” or “anti-vaxxers” and calling out the ways that they use carrot emojis to hide from Facebook their true identity.

Members of the TNI are collaborating to purge social media participants that are part of vaccine-injured groups.

Even if some of them, or even many of them, are in fact vaccine injured, the policies of the BBC and Facebook, as well as other media and social tech companies assume that there are absolutely no vaccine-injured persons and that such persons have no rights whatsoever to share their stories. (Source: TrialSite News)

In the article entitled ‘Anti-vax groups use carrot emojis to hide Facebook posts‘, the BBC writes:

Facebook groups are using the carrot emoji to hide anti-vax content from automated moderation tools.

The BBC has seen several groups, one with hundreds of thousands of members, in which the emoji appears in place of the word “vaccine”.

Facebook’s algorithms tend to focus on words rather than images.

The groups are being used to share unverified claims of people being either injured or killed by vaccines.

Once the BBC alerted Facebook’s parent company, Meta, the groups were removed.

“We have removed this group for violating our harmful misinformation policies and will review any other similar content in line with this policy. We continue to work closely with public health experts and the UK government to further tackle Covid vaccine misinformation,” the firm said in a statement.

However, the groups have since re-appeared in our searches.

One group we saw has been around for three years but rebranded itself to focus on vaccine stories, from being a group for sharing “banter, bets and funny videos” in August 2022.

The rules of the very large group state: “Use code words for everything”. It adds: “Do not use the c word, v word or b word ever” (covid, vaccine, booster). It was created more than a year ago and has more than 250,000 members.

Marc Owen-Jones, a disinformation researcher, and associate professor at Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Qatar, was invited to join it.

“It was people giving accounts of relatives who had died shortly after having the Covid-19 vaccine”, he said. “But instead of using the words “Covid-19” or “vaccine”, they were using emojis of carrots.

“Initially I was a little confused. And then it clicked – that it was being used as a way of evading, or apparently evading, Facebook’s fake news detection algorithms.”


BBC Collaborates with Facebook to Purge Vaccine-Injured Groups Online (TrialSite News/YT):

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