British scientists say social networking sites should not ban misleading content

The UK’s Academy of Advanced Science called on social media sites to remove misleading content – about vaccines, climate change and 5G technology, for example – should be rejected.

After investigating the sources and impact of online misinformation, Royal Society concluded that removing false claims and offending accounts would help limit their harm. Instead, the bans could send misinformation “to more obscure corners of the internet and exacerbate feelings of mistrust in authorities,” its report said.

In the UK, there have been calls from across the political spectrum for Twitter, Facebook and other platforms to remove antivax posts. Still, “restraining claims outside of consensus may seem desirable, but it can hinder the scientific process and force harmful content to actually linger in the ground,” says Frank Kelly, professor of mathematics. study at Cambridge University, said the Royal Society’s inquiry.

He added that removing content and driving users away from mainstream platforms makes it difficult for scientists to interact with people like anti-vaxxers. “There needs to be a more nuanced, sustainable and focused approach,” he said.

While illegal content that incites violence, racism or child sexual abuse must be removed, legal material that runs counter to scientific consensus will not, the report said. banned, the report said. Instead, there should be broad-based actions to “build collective resilience” so that people can spot harmful misinformation and respond to it.

“We need new strategies to ensure high-quality information can compete in the attention economy,” said Gina Neff, professor of technology and society at Oxford University and co-author of the report. online. “This means investing in long-term information dissemination programs, provenance-enhancing technologies, and mechanisms for sharing data between platforms and researchers.”

Sir Nigel Shadbolt, executive chairman of the UK Open Data Institute and another co-author, says being largely informed can act as a “collective intelligence” that protects against disinformation. misleading and point out inaccuracies when they come across them. “Multiple eyes can provide powerful content monitoring, as we see in Wikipedia,” he added.

Some concerns about the amplification of misinformation on the internet – such as the existence of “echo chambers” and “filter bubbles”, which cause people to only encounter information that reinforces their beliefs – has exaggerated, the report showed.

According to a YouGov poll commissioned for the report, although the Internet has led to the widespread dissemination of all kinds of information, the vast majority of people in the UK have views close to that of of mainstream science. The proportion of 2,000 participants who agreed that a Covid vaccine is unsafe was 7% for BioNTech/Pfizer jab and 11% for Oxford-AstraZeneca jab, while 90% said human activity is changing climate change.

Opponents of vaccination will eventually face evidence that their objections to the Covid shot are false, says Shadbolt, Shadbolt said. The safety of vaccinations is the best evidence we have. Because [anti-vaxxers] The proof is not good. ”

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