Vaccine Article Tops Facebook 'Most Viewed' List

John Lister's picture

The most viewed link for Americans on Facebook in the first three months of 2021 was to a news story about a doctor who died after getting a COVID vaccine. The story turned out to be questionable and may have given a misleading impression.

The statistic comes in a Facebook report that was mysteriously delayed. That's raised questions about whether Facebook held it back to avoid controversy.

Facebook publishes a quarterly report titled "Widely Viewed Content" that details posts, links and other content that are seen by the biggest number of users in the United States. It's designed to show changes in user interest along with the effects of changes to Facebook's algorithms, which play a big role in what users actually see on the site.

Quizzes Dominate Rankings

The report for the second quarter of 2021 just came out and revealed that the most seen content was a word search that supposedly revealed the user's "reality." Most of the other entries in the top 20 were similar quizzes with no news or political content. (Source: fb.com)

That report's release raised eyebrows as Facebook had yet to publish the equivalent report for the first quarter of 2021, citing a need to make "key fixes." The New York Times says insider sources revealed Facebook actually delayed the report over fears it would make the company look bad. (Source: nytimes.com)

54 Million Saw Link

The report is now out and reveals the most-viewed content was shown to 54 million US users. It was a post linking to article from the South Florida Sun Sentinel about a doctor who died two weeks after getting a COVID vaccine and noting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was investigating.

The post was widely shared on Facebook - which is partly why so many people saw it - and attracted heated debate in the comments section.

The article was updated several months later with a medical examiner's report that said there was insufficient evidence to link the death to the vaccine.

What's Your Opinion?

Does it matter which posts are most seen on Facebook? Should Facebook try to influence what content people see or should it simply have an "objective" algorithm based on what people view and share? Should Facebook try to assess the accuracy of articles people link to, and would it have made any difference in this case?

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Comments

repete.recording_14444's picture

This doesn't surprise me. It's great to see they're being called out about it. I would like to know where to access those quarterly reports entitled "Widely Viewed Content", though.

JeffRL's picture

It was created by a creepy nerd who wanted to stalk and "rate" women.

And it's only gotten worse since then.

Never used it, never will and I can't recommend that policy strongly enough.

Chief's picture

Suddenly, the great benevolent Facebook realizes it is hoist by it's own metrics.
Quick!
Pull the study and massage it until the correct mantra is met.

They would have been better off never releasing metrics again, but then, all us nerds would have noticed.

NUTS!

buzzallnight's picture

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Facebook is a social site

NOT a NEWS site!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!