BY RACHEL SCULLY
Facebook said that an article about a doctor who passed away two weeks after getting a coronavirus vaccine was the top-performing link on the social media platform in the U.S. from January to March, according to a report released Saturday.
The article, published by the South Florida Sun Sentinel and distributed by the Chicago Tribune details an incident in which a medical doctor developed a condition that causes internal bleeding after he was vaccinated against COVID-19. He died from the condition in January.
The article states, however, that there is not enough evidence to confirm whether or not his death was related to the COVID-19 vaccine.
According to Facebook’s report, the article was viewed over 53 million times.
The data suggests users’ anxiety about the coronavirus vaccine in the early stages of its rollout.
In addition, a website pushing coronavirus misinformation was one of the top 20 most visited sites on the platform, according to The Washington Post.
Facebook executives had initially shelved the report, according to The New York Times.
Previously, Facebook had shared a report of popular posts from April to June, a move that raised questions about why the company had not released data about the January to March timeframe, according to the Post.
The news comes after has faced fierce backlash from lawmakers and the Biden administration for the ways in which COVID-19 misinformation has been able to propagate on its platform. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy in July said that social media companies have “enabled misinformation” on vaccines.
“Modern technology companies have enabled misinformation to poison our information environment with little accountability to their users,” Murthy said at the time.
President Biden criticized the platform last month, saying social media companies that allow coronavirus misinformation to spread on their platforms are “killing people.” He later took back those claims.
Facebook has previously said that it is taking action on the spread of misinformation, with the Vice President of Content Policy Monika Bickert saying that “any amount of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation that violates our policies is too much by our standards.”
Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said the company had “considered making the report public earlier but since we knew the attention it would garner, exactly as we saw this week, there were fixes to the system we wanted to make.”