The post, whose author claimed it had gotten 2.6 million views, was later taken down by Medium for violating the site’s policies. A Medium spokeswoman, Sandee Roston, said the post was removed “based on its violation of our rules, specifically the risk analysis framework we use for controversial, suspect and extreme content.”
Facebook’s report, which lists 100 English-language news publishers ranked by the number of clicks they received from the social network in February, also provided a rare glimpse of where users typically get their news.
The Daily Mirror, The Daily Mail and The Daily Wire made up the top three, followed by GoFundMe, the crowdfunding site. The BBC, CNN, The Washington Post, and Fox News appeared in the top 10, while MSNBC ranked 79th, behind Breitbart, Page Six, and ScaryMommy.com.
The report also hinted at Facebook’s potential to use its enormous data trove to predict the spread of the virus. Detailed maps and charts in the report showed the rapid spread of the virus coinciding with increased traffic to coronavirus-related news stories.
As of Feb. 19, few Americans were reading about the virus, according to the report. Two weeks later, nearly 1 out of every 5 articles clicked on in the Pacific Northwest, where the virus first took hold in the nation, were about the outbreak. By March 19, a “radical change” had occurred: Nearly half of all articles clicked on across the United States were about the coronavirus.
The report, which noted a “somewhat correlated” relationship between users’ interest in virus-related news and confirmed cases in a region, also included maps showing regions where interest in the pandemic was on the rise, including areas of South America, Southeast Asia and Africa.
In Eastern Europe, the report noted a “huge increase” in the number of people interested in virus news in countries including Poland and Ukraine, which did not align with the number of cases reported in those places. Should those countries begin reporting higher numbers, it could show that Facebook data is a leading indicator of where the virus may have taken hold.