Facebook safety check helped spread false reports of Thailand explosion
A Facebook safety check for Bangkok, which the company claimed was prompted by a one-man protest near the prime minister’s office, helped spread a fake news report of an explosion in the city, The Guardian reports.
The incident is the latest example of the social media platform’s algorithms failing to distinguish between reliable and faulty news sources.
Facebook’s safety check tool, which allows users to mark themselves safe in the event of a disaster or crisis, was activated in Bangkok on 26 December, citing “media sources” as confirmation of an explosion.
A Facebook spokesperson subsequently shared local media reports of a man protesting on a roof, throwing “ping pong bombs” or “giant firecrackers” in the direction of Government House, where the prime minister works. No one was injured, according to the Bangkok Post.
Facebook’s activation of the feature sowed confusion, however, because the platform also promoted a link to a false news report of a major “explosion”.
A screenshot of the feature shared by local journalist Saksith Saiyasombut shows that Facebook promoted a 26 December article by BangkokInformer.com in conjunction with the safety check.
That article consisted of a link to 17 August 2015 BBC video about the bombing of the Erawan Shrine, according to a copy of the article preserved by the Internet Archive.