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FB releases shelved report about most-viewed posts after criticism

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FB purges over 20 mn pieces of content for violating Covid norms

San Francisco: After facing criticism, Facebook has finally released a report about its most-viewed posts for the first quarter of 2021 that might have reflected poorly on the social networking giant for its handling of Covid misinformation on its platform.

The New York Times first reported that the most-viewed link on Facebook in the first quarter “had a headline that could promote Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy”.

Facebook policy communications manager Andy Stone tweeted on Sunday that the criticism Facebook received for not releasing the report “wasn’t unfair,”.

“We’ve been getting criticism for holding an internal report until it was more favourable for us and then releasing it. Getting criticism isn’t unfair. But it’s worth taking a closer look — and making note of some of the components of the story,” he said.

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“On the question of the unreleased report from earlier this year and why we held it. We ended up holding it because there were key fixes to the system we wanted to make,” Stone added.

One of the headlines in a Facebook post read: “A ‘healthy’ doctor died two weeks after getting a COVID-19 vaccine; CDC is investigating why.”

The article was published by The South Florida Sun Sentinel and republished by The Chicago Tribune.

Facebook executives apparently “debated whether it would cause a public relations problem, according to the internal emails” and ultimately decided not to publish it, the NYT report had mentioned.

Facebook last week released its first report on the most widely viewed content in News Feed, starting with domains, links, Pages and posts in the US.

Facebook said that to paint a complete picture and provide more extensive detail of what people actually see on its platform, it will release ‘Widely Viewed Content Reports’ on a quarterly basis, starting in the US and eventually including more international data.


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