A number of social media platforms have taken a strong stance against the spread of COVID-19-related misinformation of late. As much as we criticise it for some of its actions, Facebook has been leading the way in this regard, and recently suspended an anti-mask group Stateside called Unmasking America.
The group, which has a reported 9 600 members, has been suspended from Facebook for violating the platform’s policies on the spread of misinformation. Many of the groups claims related to the wearing of masks have been widely debunked, with much of its rhetoric aiming to incite fear among those who may read it.
“It is a psychological anchor for suppression, enslavement and cognitive obedience. When you wear a mask you are complicit in declaring all humans as dangerous, infectious and threats,” says one post.
Unmasking America is but one of several similarly positioned anti-mask groups on Facebook, as The Verge discovered by simply typing in the phrase “unmask” on the platform. Mashable performed a similar search, uncovering groups like NO MAS(K) and Anti-Maskers, which have 3 400 and 1 700 members respectively.
There is also the issue of the Million Unmaksed March group on Facebook, which has 8 000 members and is still up at the time of writing.
As such it still remains to be seen what action Facebook will take on these other anti-mask groups, but is appears any suspension will hinge on whether the groups spread COVID-19 misinformation.
“We have clear policies against promoting harmful misinformation about COVID 19 and have removed this group while we review the others,” a Facebook spokesperson told Mashable.
It may therefore be a case that these anti-masks groups can remain active, provided they do not share any misinformation related to COVID-19. Whether that is an effective enough policy, however, remains to be seen.
For now it seems like the issue of wearing masks while outside has proved one of the most divisive elements of COVID-19 to date.[Image – Photo by Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash]