UK media has reported on a new study which found that Facebook failed to label 80% of articles on its platform promoting the fast-spreading conspiracy theory that the US is funding the use of bioweapons in Ukraine. According to a report by The Guardian:
March 31, 2022 As social media companies promise to crack down on Russian disinformation about the war in Ukraine, studies show they continue to fall short, allowing disproven narratives to reach millions. Facebook failed to label 80% of articles on its platform promoting a fast-spreading conspiracy theory that the US is funding the use of bioweapons in Ukraine, according to a study released Friday by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH). The nonprofit disinformation research group studied a sample of posts from between 24 February and 14 March sharing external articles containing baseless claims about bioweapons. It found Facebook in 80% of cases failed to label posts as either “missing context”, containing “partly false information” or “false information” outright.
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The Guardian report notes that the bioweapons theory began to spread among fringe QAnon accounts in the early days of the conflict, ultimately making its way to larger platforms such as Fox News.
In mid-February, the Global Influence Operations Report reported that Russian media was claiming the United States was developing biological weapons in a network of labs in Ukraine. These claims have been echoed by Chinese officials and amplified by QAnon conspiracy theorists and conservative American political figures, including Fox News host Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump Jr. A recent report by the Daily Beast highlights how US conservative and conspiratorial influencers have contributed to this Russian disinformation campaign.
For more GIOR coverage of Facebook’s efforts to counter disinformation and influence operations, go here.