Facebook algorithm makes boosting vaccine uptake an uphill battle
来源: 大中报 南茜(Nancy Jin)
Health authorities on both sides of the border have seemingly exhausted every possible means to encourage vaccination rate -- from lottery draws to woo the hesitant group to vaccine passports to limit freedom of the unvaccinated. But despite authorities' desperate efforts and the carrot and stick policies, hard-core vaccine deniers wouldn't budge, refusing to roll up sleeves. As a result, the full vaccinated rate stalls at 60% in the US while barely budging at 75.1% in Alberta and Saskatchewan – the lowest vaccine rate in Canada. Misinformation campaign on Facebook has only fueled the anti-vaccine sentiment, making boosting the vaccine uptake an uphill battle.
Facebook is a hotbed of vaccine deniers and anti-vaccine misinformation. Started by a dozen superspreaders at the outset of the vaccination campaign, false claims ranging from denying Covid existence to fabricating vaccination danger have spread rapidly and wildly on Facebook. The vaccine misinformation campaign has spread to Canada as anti-vaxxers launched coordinated efforts targeting Canadians -- distributing posts featuring death threats against PM Trudeau and the top doctor Theresa Tam.
Facebook algorithm is the best at propagating false information and artificially stoking demand. As its recommendation engine runs into full throttle, deceptive content that easily inspires negative emotions – from fear to outrage has gained prominence on the site, referred, prioritized, and widely distributed. Meanwhile, credible information that fosters vaccine confidence and encourages vaccine uptake receives the lowest ranking, pushed to the news feeds’ back burner.
Facebook内幕举报人在国会上的证词揭露了社交媒体平台的这一将企业获利置于公众利益之上的无良商业模式。Facebook 生产经理 France Haugen 表示，Facebook 算法的旨在吸引更多的广告点击从而带来丰厚的收入，由于那些耸人听闻的内容和张贴能吸引眼球，因而在网站上被大肆张扬。 Haugen 表示，Facebook 也曾通过改变算法来减少误导信息，但这种努力往往是暂时的。当Facebook认为潜在的导致政治上的两级分化之因素（例如大选）一旦消失，就会迅速从着重大众安全但会抑制收入增长的系统中切换回来。
Whistleblower's testimony at the Congress has painted a dark picture of the Facebook unethical business model, which prioritizes corporate profit over the public good. According to France Haugen, a Facebook production manager, the Facebook algorithm focuses on enticing more clicks on the ads and bringing in lucrative revenues, which results in the flourishing of engaging and sensational content. Haugen said that Facebook's efforts to reduce misinformation by changing the algorithm were temporary. The platform had often quickly switched back from the system that promoted safety over revenue growth when its perceived crisis of political polarization– such as election was over.
根据Facebook的这种以利润为导向的信息排序算法， 其所谓清除虚假信息的努力（例如事实核查和禁止反疫苗张贴等）收效甚微。当 新冠 疫苗在今年春天广泛使用时，41% 的 Facebook 张贴与鼓励接种疫苗唱反调。Facebook上的这些不实信息害人不浅。 美国各 州新冠项目调查发现，那些依赖 Facebook 获取 疫情 新闻和信息的人与美国平均大众相比疫苗接种率更低。 Facebook 新闻消费者的疫苗接种率甚至低于福克斯新闻消费者。此外，在使用 Facebook 作为 疫情 唯一新闻来源的 16% 的受访者中，25% 的人表示他们拒绝接种疫苗，而 CNN 用户中这一比例仅为 9%。
The profit-driven algorithm has rendered the Facebook claimed efforts to weed out false information – such as fact-checking and banning anti-vaccine posts ineffective. When Covid vaccines became widely available last spring, 41% of Facebook posts discouraged vaccination. The false information has negatively affected the vaccination campaign. The Covid States Project Survey has found that those who relied on Facebook for Covid news and information are much less likely to have received jabs than average Americans. The vaccination rate among Facebook news consumers was even lower than their Fox News counterparts. Moreover, among the 16% of respondents who used Facebook as the only source of news on Covid, 25% saying they refused vaccination, comparing to 9% of the CNN users.
Facebook has raked in record revenues as false claims that inspire human emotions– from fear to outrage thrive on the site. These negative but powerful emotions have become formidable headwinds towards the pandemic savior --vaccination as anti-vaccine protests wreak havoc across cities. Facebook has played a crucial role in fueling the anti-vaccine sentiment that has undermined the global pandemic response.