Tech companies should be forced to reveal Covid-19 viral material, health experts say | Health

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Tech Companies should be forced to reveal the most viral Covid-19 material online to bring misinformation to the surface where it can be refuted, a public health coalition urged.

Reset Australia has written to all federal parliamentarians urging the Australian government to enforce “live lists” which may even include demographic information on users sharing fake news on the pandemic.

He warned that the February vaccination campaign could be derailed by “growing mistrust” and false claims online.

This initiative is supported by the Doherty Institute, the Immunization Coalition and the Australian Immunization Foundation.

Tech companies including Google, Facebook and Twitter opposed reforms that would make them responsible for disinformation on their platforms, but the “live list” approach would be a lighter touch than requiring the removal of material.

Reset Australia wrote that “the deadly and hidden spread of Covid-19 disinformation on social media” is a vulnerability in Australia’s response to the coronavirus.

“We know that disinformation has spread via platforms like Facebook, hinders efforts by Australian medical authorities, ”he said, citing conspiracy theories that the coronavirus is a government-led or 5G-related hoax.

Reset Australia argued that public health authorities know “very little about this misinformation and the kind of demographics that are consuming it” because only tech companies have the “big picture” of how they are doing it. spread.

“As it stands, we are catching up with a disinformation machine that is two steps ahead of us.”

According to a reset policy document released in September, once disinformation garners 1,000 or more impressions, tech companies should be forced to release the details of the post.

This would include information such as the number of times it has been shared publicly, privately, and by bot accounts; and which public accounts shared it.

If a post is shared by more than 100 users, companies should be required to post demographic information such as gender, age, location, and language of those sharing it.

Chris Cooper, executive director of Reset Australia, said social media companies were making “mega dollars” by amplifying sensational content and had “supercharged conspiracy theories and misinformation, pushing some people into echo chambers where false information is all they see ”.

Catherine Hughes, of the Australian Immunization Foundation, said vaccine information “costs lives” as parents are “scared of misinformation online to see their children die or suffer serious consequences from an illness preventable by vaccination ”.

The 2019 election campaign was marred by widespread misinformation on social media claiming Labor intended to introduce a death tax, prompting Labor to demand a Facebook inquiry into the failure to disassemble the equipment.

Before the 2019 election Facebook imposed limits on foreign advertising and made greater use of fact checking, but did not deploy an “ad library” to disclose details of organizations posting political ads.

The Australian government has previously asked tech and social media companies to design a code of conduct outlining how they handle complaints and deal with misinformation about their businesses. sites.

The code, which will be administered by the Australian Communications Media Authority, is based on a gradual system of prejudice, with actions against fake news ranging from warning labels to disposal of harmful materials. It is expected to be implemented by mid-2021.

Labor attacked the Coalition for not exposing disinformation about Covid-19 …

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