Facebook has made progress on its policy towards anti-vaxxers over the past couple of years. From tolerating them, to factchecking, to increasingly removing content and taking them off the platform if they’re spreading misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. But none of that progress actually matters if Facebook is not actually enforcing those rules.
On Tuesday night, Australian freelance journalist and open source intelligence analyst Elise Thomas noticed that another conspiracy group was advertising on Facebook for an upcoming event.
Facebook is running paid ads for another Covid-19 conspiracy theory protest in Melbourne this week pic.twitter.com/Rds8rjXx71
— Elise Thomas (@elisethoma5) January 11, 2021
“Facebook is running paid ads for another Covid-19 conspiracy theory protest in Melbourne this week,” she tweeted along with images of event.
Thomas told Gizmodo that she was disappointed to see this still happening on Facebook.
“It’s obviously concerning that even now, coming up on a year after this crisis began, Facebook is still allowing events like this to advertise on their platform, and is in effect making money off Covid denialism in addition to spreading it,” Thomas said via DM.
That’s all despite Facebook’s promised crackdown on anti-vaccine content on its platforms, after the movement had spent years using their service to spread their message of medical misinformation to millions of people.
Does this failure to actually carry out the platform’s policies sound familiar? That’s because it is.
In November, Gizmodo Australia reported on how anti-vaccine political candidates were using Facebook advertising to promote their views during the Queensland election.
This report referenced prior reporting from other publications about it happening many times before.
Thomas has concerns about whether the company is doing an adequate job moderating their advertising platform “to the point of being irresponsible”.
“I think it also shows the lack of consequences for Facebook for not taking that care. Until there are meaningful consequences, I don’t think it’s likely to change, unfortunately,” she said.
Facebook has been contacted for comment.