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Facebook warns JAMA study on children's COVID masks 'false news,' sharers will be punished

Pages, websites that repeatedly publish or share false news will see "overall distribution reduced and be restricted' in other ways," says warning.

Updated: July 7, 2021 - 4:19pm

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Facebook warning about JAMA Pediatrics study
Facebook warning about JAMA Pediatrics study
Facebook
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Facebook warning about Townhall.com face mask report
Facebook warning about Townhall.com face mask report
Facebook

Facebook is warning users against sharing a study that found dangerously high carbon-dioxide intake in masked schoolchildren, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics.

"Pages and websites that repeatedly publish or share false news will see their overall distribution reduced and be restricted in other ways," the warning says when users paste the link on Facebook, before confirming they want to share it.

It's giving the same warning and threat of account restrictions to users who paste a link to Townhall.com article on a University of Florida lab that found dangerous pathogens on children's face masks, submitted for testing by their parents.

Just the News confirmed the warnings popped up on the two articles when pasting the links in Facebook posts. Each recommends a fact-check by organizations authorized by Facebook to vet posted articles — Lead Stories for the JAMA Pediatrics study, whose URL starts "hoax alert," and AFP France for the mask-pathogen lab report.

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Facebook warning about JAMA Pediatrics study
Facebook warning about JAMA Pediatrics study
Facebook
Image
Facebook warning about Townhall.com face mask report
Facebook warning about Townhall.com face mask report
Facebook

Jennifer Cabrera, who wrote the first article about the mask-pathogen lab report, shared Facebook screenshots that show AFP France reviewed the link 20 days after it was posted and Facebook added a warning that same day. She noted Facebook misidentified the fact-checker as AFP Africa.

"AFP's 'fact-check' simply highlights disagreements between the scientist who conducted the test and other scientists who did not conduct the test," she tweeted Wednesday. "Instead of acknowledging that more study would resolve the dispute, AFP calls the report false. That's not science — that's propaganda."

The organizations are certified by the Poynter Institute's International Fact-Checking Network, which received $1.3 million from the grant-making organizations founded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and progressive megadonor George Soros.