On Thursday, Casey Newton reported that Facebook is piloting a circuit breaker to stop viral spread of posts in some circumstances. Such a tool, if it had been adopted earlier, as one of us (Goodman) proposed and the Center for American Progress also advanced this week, might have helped stop QAnon’s toxic spread and might still staunch the flow of dangerous incitement and misinformation by introducing friction into the algorithmic amplification of dangerous conspiracies.
The news about Facebook comes in the same week that major social media platforms, having been warned that it was coming, acted quickly to stop the Plandemic sequel from becoming viral. Things went very differently when the first Plandemic video appeared in May, going viral with lies that masks are dangerous and social distancing is unnecessary. The video spread with such velocity that it was viewed more than 8 million times in a week before YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter all removed it for violating their policies. The video was a digital pathogen with a high rate of infection—what virologists call the R-naught.