Facebook took action on a fake story on white vans but what about these hoaxes? – The Guardian

Posted By on December 7, 2019

Facebook has come under fire this week after a hoax story about women being abducted in white vans went viral on its platform. The sites algorithms are thought to have perpetuated the circulation of the story.

The story resulted in a TV appearance on Monday by Baltimores mayor, Jack Young, who warned citizens that the white vans are abducting women for sex trafficking and selling their body parts, even though the claims have not been substantiated. Its all over Facebook, he told a local news station.

The platform says it is is now trying to stop the misinformation from spreading even further by limiting the circulation of viral posts that are perpetuating it.

This week, the Guardian uncovered a far-right network pushing out thousands of fake news articles about the US congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. When the Guardian notified Facebook of its investigation, the company removed several pages and accounts but not because they were spreading misinformation. The media platform removed only content that appeared to be financially motivated.

Here are some other unsubstantiated stories that remain on the platform.

A story from the American Herald Tribune claiming that Donald Trumps grandfather was a pimp and a tax evader continues to circulate on Facebook. It also claims that the presidents father, Fred Trump, was a KKK member.

The article was thought to be shared almost 30m times, despite having no substantial evidence to support its claims. Fred Trump was detained during a KKK protest in Queens, New York, in 1927, but he was released without charges.

Trumps grandfather, Frederick Trump, owned hotels and restaurants in Seattle. The Trump family biographer Gwenda Blair said that one such restaurant in the middle of Seattles red-light district, the Dairy, advertised rooms for ladies commonly thought to be a euphemism for prostitution. However, there is no evidence that he was a pimp something Blair herself stated.

Another false story that had an estimated 77,000 views claims that Omar attended an al-Qaida training camp. It comes from a photo taken at a Mogadishu training camp by the Associated Press in 1978, three years before Omar was born.

Facebook flagged the post as fake as part of its goal of reducing fake news on the site, but it continues to circulate elsewhere online. In October, the North Dakota state senator Oley Larsen shared the debunked post on Facebook.

A story claiming that the New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wants to ban motorcycles in the US was shared online more than 12m times on Facebook, and has since been debunked.

It comes from the website Taters Gonna Tate and quotes Ocasio-Cortez as saying: Besides like, what I just said? A lot of these like, motorcycle people, OK, theyre like: Ooh, look at me, Im all old and fat and tough and I voted for Trump and smell like wet dog.

Although the website is clearly satirical, articles written on it have been taken seriously including one that claims Ocasio-Cortez believes that soldiers are paid too much. A Louisiana police officer shared that article in a Facebook post in July, calling Ocasio-Cortez a vile idiot and saying she should be shot.

Facebook has repeatedly made the case that it is not the job of the platform to remove Holocaust denial content. Mark Zuckerberg memorably defended the rights of Facebook users who post Holocaust denial content in 2018, saying that he didnt think that theyre intentionally getting it wrong.

He later added that he found Holocaust denial deeply offensive, but maintained that the platforms role is not to remove things that people get wrong.

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Facebook took action on a fake story on white vans but what about these hoaxes? - The Guardian

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