A Facebook whistle-blower told lawmakers at a hearing on Tuesday that the company can effectively police at most about a fifth of the vaccine misinformation that appears on its platform.
Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager for the company’s civic misinformation team who released a trove of internal documents demonstrating the social media company’s negative impacts, testified on Capitol Hill about a wide range of issues, briefly touching on the problem of virus misinformation.
Facebook and other online platforms like YouTube and Twitter have helped turbocharge the spread of false information about the coronavirus, vaccines and supposed cures, like the livestock deworming drug Ivermectin.
The company said in February that it planned to remove posts that contained inaccurate statements about vaccines from its platform and has since last year been vocal about removing coronavirus misinformation.
But posts and groups spreading false information related to the coronavirus continued to appear.
In July President Biden said Facebook was “killing people” through the inaccurate information it spread, though he walked the comment back after the company objected.
On Tuesday, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota asked Ms. Haugen whether Facebook had dedicated enough resources to removing coronavirus falsehoods, noting that YouTube said last week that it would ban all anti-vaccine misinformation.
“I do not believe Facebook, as currently structured, has the capability to stop vaccine misinformation,” Haugen said.
She added that Facebook said that its efforts were only likely to remove “10 to 20 percent of content.”
Facebook did not immediately respond to requests for comment.