Liberal group says Facebook’s misinformation labels amplified Trump posts
A new study published this week by liberal media watchdog Media Matters for America found that Facebook’s misinformation labels may have actually helped to amplify former President Trump’s content.
According to Media Matters, the posts from Trump between January 2020 to 2021 that were labeled as containing misinformation by Facebook received more than twice the amount of interactions compared to his overall posts. The labeled posts received around 407,000 interactions on average, while his posts overall received an average of 152,000 interactions in comparison.
More than 500 of Trump’s posts were labeled by Facebook in the time period that Media Matters studied.
“Facebook keeps touting its labels as a proactive response to misinformation spread on the platform, even though internal and external data shows the labels are ineffective and the platform’s application of them is inconsistent at best,” the group concluded.
The media nonprofit found that Facebook was inconsistent in labeling Trump content containing misinformation, even after the former president was suspended from the platform. Two May 13 posts that promoted statements from Trump’s now defunct blog were labeled, while dozens of others that contained images or texts from that same statement were allowed to remain.
A representative for Facebook shot back at MMFA’s characterization, pointing out that the media watchdog had not provided evidence to show that the labels directly caused the posts to become more popular. They added that the labels were solely intended to provide information and not to impact engagement in any way.
“We developed informational labels ahead of last year’s election to help people get reliable sources about the election process. We feel confident those labels helped more people get dependable information and context about the 2020 election,” Facebook Policy Communications Manager Kevin McAlister said in a statement to The Hill.
On Wednesday, the Building Back Together nonprofit, which was created by Biden allies and former campaign advisers, put its support behind calls for Facebook to conduct an internal probe to determine whether its actions contributed to the spread of baseless election fraud claims.
These calls followed a recommendation from Facebook’s Oversight Board for the company to perform an internal review.
“Unless Facebook engages in the transparent evaluation and review that the Oversight Board demands, it will have discredited the board’s very reason for being within 30 days of its only noteworthy action,” Building Back Together senior voting rights adviser Bob Bauer said in a letter reviewed by Politico.