Thursday, January 20, 2022

SHAME ON YOUR BBC: Should bad science be taken off social media?

How do you solve a problem like bad information?

When it comes to understanding science and making health decisions, it can have life-or-death consequences.

People dissuaded from taking vaccines as a result of reading misleading information online have ended up in hospital or even died.

And inaccurate or completely made-up claims about 5G and the origins of Covid-19 have been linked to violence and vandalism.

But completely removing information can look a lot like censorship, especially for scientists whose careers are based on the understanding that facts can and should be disputed, and that evidence changes.

The Royal Society is the world's oldest continuously operating scientific institution, and it is attempting to grapple with the challenges posed by our newest ways of communicating information.

In a new report, it advises against social media companies removing content that is "legal but harmful". Instead, the report authors believe, social media sites should adjust their algorithms to prevent it going viral - and stop people making money off false claims.

But not everyone agrees with that view - especially researchers who are experts in tracking the way misinformation spreads online, and how it harms people.

The Cent