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Facebook disinformation ‘biggest challenge’ to tackling Covid-19 – Papua New Guinea minister

Facebook disinformation ‘biggest challenge’ to tackling Covid-19 – Papua New Guinea minister
Papua New Guinea’s health minister, Jelta Wong, criticized Facebook on Thursday, claiming the spread of disinformation on the site poses the “biggest challenge” to tackling rising cases of Covid-19 in the country.

Speaking at an online event on Thursday, Wong declared that “Facebook is our biggest conspiracy theorist platform”, and called for the company to “take responsibility for this and stop it.”

Specifically, the health minister cited how “dangerous” posts, such as ‘anti-vax’ conspiracy theories, were hurting the nation’s vaccine rollout and discouraging individuals from getting tested for the virus, sending Covid cases soaring in the country.

Facebook has given a medium to people … they can say something that other people will believe. That is our biggest challenge.

Recent AFP fact-checks have uncovered false posts being shared on social media and through messaging apps that discourage people from getting vaccinated or treated for Covid by claiming that the mass inoculation plans are part of a racial genocide in Papua New Guinea.

Also on rt.com Harmful content not ‘fault of faceless machines,’ Facebook VP Nick Clegg says while blaming users for ‘polarizing’ content

While the country saw only around 1,000 cases of Covid-19 in 2020, in March 2021 alone, it reported more than 4,000 infections. This spike has threatened to overwhelm its health system and has forced the government to set up an emergency coronavirus clinic.

Last week, Australia delivered 8,000 doses of Covid vaccine to Papua New Guinea, but a larger shipment destined for the country from the European Union has been blocked. The EU has refused to allow it to be exported due to its own domestic vaccination needs.

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