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Anti-vaccine groups avoid Facebook bans by using emojis

Pizza slices, cupcakes, and peaches among emojis hijacked.

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Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson)

Pizza slices, cupcakes, and carrots are just a few emojis that anti-vaccine activists use to speak in code and continue spreading COVID-19 misinformation on Facebook.

Bloomberg reported that Facebook moderators have failed to remove posts shared in anti-vaccine groups and on pages that would ordinarily be considered violating content, if not for the code-speak. One group that Bloomberg reviewed, called “Died Suddenly,” is a meeting ground for anti-vaccine activists supposedly mourning a loved one who died after they got vaccines—which they refer to as having “eaten the cake.”

Facebook owner Meta told Bloomberg that “it’s removed more than 27 million pieces of content for violating its COVID-19 misinformation policy, an ongoing process,” but declined to tell Ars whether posts relying on emojis and code-speak were considered in violation of the policy.

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