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Facebook’s algorithm hurts science and skepticism pages but leaves alt-med and charlatans’ pages untouched.

Debunking pseudoscience

Facebook’s algorithm hurts science and skepticism pages but leaves alt-med and charlatans’ pages untouched.

Op-Ed

Lately our group and Facebook page has been getting hammered for pointing out fake news and pseudoscience. We have messaged Facebook about this problem and have had a rather luke-warm response from them. As an organization that formed before Facebook’s crackdown on “fake news’, Facebook hasn’t been able to differentiate between those who are spreading false information and those who are activly debunking it. Our admin team messaged Facebook about this and their response was rather cookie cutter explaining their “policy” on sharing fake news and what they’re “doing” about it to stop the spread. Admittedly their response was rather frustrating to many of us at AAPN and we’ve been doing our best to adjust to their new algorithm for flagging fake news.

Now this would be all fine and dandy if they were actually doing this but, there’s an elephant in the room that needs to be addressed: quacks, frauds, charlatans, and woo peddlers are still flourishing on Facebook. It appears that Facebook is conveniently ignoring that alt-med pages and groups are still pushing their pseudoscience and quackery on the social media giant’s platform. One issue is that Facebook has failed to provide a proper way to report pages that not only promote pseudoscience but woo as well, they also don’t provide an avenue to report pages that violate FDA (and most other countries’) guidelines on “herbal supplements” and other poorly regulated forms of quackery. Most countries have requirements, especially the United States ( Where Facebook is headquartered) have laws that govern exactly what alt-med providers can and can’t say. Quacks have found that since Facebook overlooks alt-med so much that they can say things on the platform that they wouldn’t be able to get away with on say a TV commercial.

The fact that charlatans like: David “Avocado” Wolfe who still has an active Facebook presence with well over 12 million subscribers; Gwyneth Paltro (founder of the Netflix woo series GOOP); and websites like Collective Evolution all are still actively operating on Facebook’s platform speaks volumes to the serious inadequacies to Facebook’s “crack down” on false and fake news. To be frank, Facebook’s crackdown has made it much harder in many ways for legitimate skepticism groups and pages to operate on Facebook’s platform. Facebook still is doing little to nothing to curtail the spread of false information that can seriously harm or even kill people with unproven (or proven useless or harmful) pseudoscience and quackery. Facebook has improved with identifying fake partisan news but when it comes to science and health, there’s much need for improvement.

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2 Responses

  1. Scott Lawrence says:

    Could you cite examples of your posts that were taken down by FB?

    • Lance Dyas says:

      We will see what we can do. But it isn’t even taken down necessarily that is the problem they mask over them and reduce the distribution of your posts in general with a rule based on frequency of sharing misinformation we are posting things pointing out nonsense and debunking it. Or our group members are saying do you have the facts about this? so that others can present debunking facts, it is in the nature of the group in a sense that we do share nonsense in order to tear it down.

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