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Facebook moderator removing posts with inaccurate coronavirus info

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Posted at 9:33 PM, Mar 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-18 07:55:05-04

IONIA, Mich. — One Facebook moderator says he has been forced to restrict inaccurate or misleading posts related to the novel coronavirus.

John Speckin has been an admin for the ‘Wassup Ionia?’ Facebook group for about the past five years.

“Originally I started the group because I felt Ionia wasn’t getting noticed for the good things around town, and I wanted to have a group where people could come in, whether they live in Ionia,” said John Speckin.

Speckin says there can be up to 70 posts per day from members in the group. Speckin has flagged about five each day containing misleading information, inaccurate facts, rumors, heresy or links to illegitimate news sites.

“The fear factor seems to be going up with you know, people spreading lies,” said Speckin. “(Posts) have to have factual information for us to allow it now.”

If it comes from a credible news source or an agency like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Speckin and other moderators will allow it.

For instance, one poster made the comment that a nearby Meijer was closing due to sparse stock. Speckin says the comment was totally untrue.

“Some people were coming on the group making comments that really weren’t true, and they were basically just doing it to put the fear factor back out there, and one thing that we police the page for is making up lies,” said Speckin. “We don’t want to be any part of that. That’s not what this group is about.”

Facebook’s fact-checking tool has also flagged posts within the last two weeks, which moderators have later removed.

Speckin wants to remind people to take the virus seriously, encourage the community to stick together, adding “we should come out of this okay.”