Facebook users hardly saw the application of the “false” label on posts in general and rarer became its use on those by former US President Donald Trump even when they contained lies, suggests new research from US-based non-profit The Markup.
The research suggests that Facebook applied restraints in labelling content “false” and the social networking giant used the label only to posts like one linking Bill Gates to a world domination plot, or one that said “Biden did not win legally.”
Posts by Trump were treated with the less direct flags, said the report on Tuesday.
The study involved Facebook feed data from more than 2,200 people and examined how often those users saw flagged posts on the platform in December and January.
It found over 330 users in the sample who saw posts that were flagged because they were false, devoid of context, or related to an especially controversial issue, like the presidential election.
But Facebook and its partners were found using the “false” label only 12 times in the data.
The study showed that Trump posts were never called “false” or “misleading,” even when they contained lies.
For example, when Trump shared a mid-December post claiming it was “statistically impossible” for Joe Biden to have won, Facebook just pointed out that the US “has laws, procedures and established institutions to ensure the integrity of our elections.”
Joe Biden’s posts were given also several flags, but they were limited to notes simply saying he had won the election.
The flag was placed on even innocuous content, like an obituary for Chuck Yeager, said the report which used data from The Markup’s Citizen Browser project.
“We don’t comment on data that we can’t validate, but we are looking into the examples shared,” Facebook spokesperson Katie Derkits was quoted as saying in a statement when The Markup shared the underlying data for the research with Facebook.
On the other hand, Facebook used flags for “missing context” relatively freely.
Some Facebook posts received a “missing context” label even when they endorsed an underlying conspiracy theory, according to the report.