Facebook Staff Is Aware Fake Biden Earpiece Stories Are Spreading On The Site; ‘Reducing Distribution’ According To Spokesperson
Liz Bourgeois, a spokesperson for Facebook, responded Tuesday to reporting about certain false allegations regarding Joe Biden circulating on the site. The claim, which appears to have been initially placed by Q-Anon, has flourished, shared by Donald Trump’s campaign and fans, across social media. Facebook is reportedly working to control the spread of memes and posts promoting the lie, but the debate is only hours away.
On Facebook, right-wing sources are sharing biased media stories claiming that Joe Biden will wear an earpiece to be fed answers during the debate. It’s not the first time Facebook’s algorithms have been criticized for helping fake news or conspiracies — including deadly ones — spread.
The story isn’t only on Facebook. It’s being spread on Twitter, too, by verified accounts, and spread on media outlets associated with the same right-wing pundits and self-appointed commentators.
If Joe Biden isn't hiding anything why won't he consent to a third party checking for an earpiece before tonight's debate?
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) September 29, 2020
So is Biden going to be answering questions tonight? Or just the person on the other end of an earpiece? https://t.co/1VNZjw1RTM
— Steven Crowder (@scrowder) September 29, 2020
When NBC reporter Ben Collins called out Facebook for the spread of the conspiracy Tuesday afternoon, he traced the origins back to an anonymous Twitter user, and to Q-Anon.
Q posted the earpiece conspiracy theory around 11:40 this morning.
QAnon is turning into an aggregator for standard right-wing talking points, part of their new "camouflage" strategy to decouple conspiracy theories from Q.
Hope you all like close-up pictures of a guy's ears. pic.twitter.com/nupZSwpC9Z
— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) September 29, 2020
A Facebook spokesperson responded, explaining that they are aware of this particular rumor and working on fact-checking it, and reducing visibility of it in the meantime.
We’re reducing distribution of false claims that Biden has worn an earpiece in debates or is planning to wear one tonight. This is a step we take to reduce the spread of a claim while it’s pending review by third party fact-checkers when there are indications it is false.
Facebook’s algorithms can promote posts to those who are most likely to interact with them based on past activity — a method that has been criticized for bringing together conspiracy theorists.