Photos show body bags that read ‘disinfo kills’ outside of Facebook’s DC office to protest vaccine misinformation on the platform

A blue body bag in the foreground with a tag including the facebook logo and the words 'disinfo kills'
Body bags reading ‘Disinfo Kills’ were placed outside of Facebook’s DC office. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
  • Activists filled the sidewalk outside Facebook’s D.C. office with body bags reading “disinfo kills.”
  • The Real Facebook Oversight Board, a group of experts and civil rights leaders, organized it.
  • The group is calling on Facebook to take further action about disinformation on its platform.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Activists placed body bags that read “disinfo kills” outside Facebook’s offices in Washington, D.C., to encourage the platform to take further action against COVID-19 disinformation superspreaders.

The event was organized by a group called the Real Facebook Oversight Board, a coalition of academics, experts, and civil rights leaders initially brought together to rapidly respond to concerns about Facebook and the presidential election.

President Biden previously said that Facebook was “killing people” with false COVID-19 information but later clarified that he was referring to superspreaders of that disinformation on the platform. He appeared to be referencing a report by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), which identified a “disinformation dozen” – 12 individuals that the report found were responsible for 73% of the anti-vaccine content on Facebook.

In a statement Wednesday, a Facebook spokesperson told Insider that it “permanently [bans] Pages, Groups, and accounts that repeatedly break our rules on COVID misinformation,” including over a dozen such pages, groups, and accounts from the individuals identified in the report.

The protest action Wednesday was accompanied by the group’s second-quarter “Facebook Quarterly Harms Report,” which issued two major demands: that Facebook disables post engagement on “proven disinformation superspreaders” and that the platform “uprank quality news sources by reprioritizing reputability in the news algorithm.”

Facebook previously prioritized authoritative news sources like NPR, CNN, and The New York Times in the aftermath of the 2020 United States election, but later rolled back the change, The New York Times reported.

Photos from the event show two rows of body bags laid out in front of Facebook’s Washington, D.C. office, with photos posted by The Real Facebook Oversight Board showing protesters holding signs that bear a Facebook logo and the words “disinformation kills.”

Blue body bags laying on the ground outside facebook's dc office under an awning. the bags bear text that reads 'disinfo kills'
Activists placed body bags reading ‘disinfo kills’ outside of Facebook’s DC office. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

Another photo from Reuters shows a pedestrian walking through the protest.

A pedestrian walks through a protest between two rows of blue body bags that read 'disinfo kills.' the bags are surrounded by activists holding signs that read 'facebook disinformation kills'
A pedestrian walks through the rows of body bags in front of Facebook’s Washington, D.C. office. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

The protest and release of the “Facebook Quarterly Harms Report” coincide with Facebook’s Q2 earnings call, which is set to take place on Wednesday afternoon.

The report found that over 83% of number one posts on Facebook in Q2 – citing CrowdTangle data compiled by New York Times reporter Kevin Roose on the Twitter account Facebook’s Top 10 – originated from “five known disinformation superspreaders” including Ben Shapiro and Sean Hannity.

Facebook said in a newsroom post and also in a statement to Insider on Wednesday that it has removed more than 18 million pieces of content on Facebook and Instagram that violate its politics on COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation. It also said that it has labeled and reduced the visibility of over 167 million pieces of COVID-19 content that have been debunked by fact-checkers.

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