Facebook has removed one of the largest anti-mask groups from its platform for violating its policies against the spread of misinformation about COVID-19.
The About section of the Unmasking America public group! – which had more than 9,600 members – described it as "here to spread the TRUTH about masks!" Several allegations have been made that have been widely exposed that masks block oxygen flow and have negative psychological effects. “It is a psychological anchor for oppression, enslavement, and cognitive obedience. When you wear a mask, you declare everyone to be dangerous, contagious and threatening, ”the article says.
It is one of dozens of such groups that are easy to find when searching for "unmasking" on Facebook. Some of the groups are private, so a group administrator must approve new members before they can join. However, the issue is the same: the groups reject the public health intervention advocated by medical experts. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend wearing masks in all public areas to limit the spread of the virus. These Facebook groups are for people who don't want to wear masks, and there are plenty of them.
Facebook's action came after a request from The Verge's group. "We have clear guidelines against promoting harmful misinformation about COVID 19 and have removed this group while we review the others," said Facebook spokesman Dami Oyefeso in an email.
According to Facebook rules, if a group repeatedly shares incorrect messages, the platform will lower the content of the group in users' news feeds and will no longer suggest that people join the group to slow their growth.
Some of the anti mask groups on Facebook
The Unmasking America group page contained contributions from photos of members wearing masks emblazoned with the Make America Great Again slogan or other references to President Trump, usually to protest the mask requirements. Other articles described experiences with shops that require masks, and many articles asked how to apply for an "exception" to the mask rules.
A picture of a "Face Mask Exempt Card" issued by the "Freedom to Breathe Agency" was prominently linked; One poster advised others to "print, laminate and use it. The number is real. "There is no such agency, and police officers have warned that such cards – using a version of the Justice Department's eagle logo -" do not have legal force, "the New York Times reported.
Private groups include the "Million Unmasked March" group with more than 7,800 members. "Parents are powerful! We are a group of mothers, fathers, grandparents, uncles, aunts, teachers, friends, nurses and everyone who takes care that our children wear masks to school in autumn ”, says the section“ About ”the group. “We believe that our children wearing masks at school are physically and mentally harmful. Say NO MORE MASKS with us! “And the“ Unmasking Fear ”group, which has around 400 members, is promoting an event against compulsory masks on August 1st.
However, medical experts say that there are very few medical reasons that prevent most people from wearing fabric covers when they go public. Around two dozen states now have some kind of public mask requirement. Even President Trump, who has largely resisted wearing a mask in public, tweeted on Monday that it was "patriotic to wear a face mask when you can't distance yourself socially".
Facebook has taken several steps to stem the flood of coronavirus misinformation on its platforms, with mixed results. A devastating report by the Avaaz human rights group in April found that 100 pieces of misinformation about the virus were shared on Facebook over 1.7 million times and viewed about 117 million times. Facebook announced on April 16 that a warning sign would be added if a person liked, commented on, or responded to a post with fake coronavirus information. Also in April, the company announced that it was removing "pseudosciences" from the list of categories that advertisers could use to target potential customers "to prevent potential abuse in ads."
In May, the company released a report describing the use of artificial intelligence along with human fact-checkers and moderators to enforce its community standards. According to the report, Facebook flagged 50 million content related to COVID-19 in April and removed more than 2.5 million content related to mask sales, hand sanitizers and COVID-19 test kits since March 1.