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Facebook posts misleadingly claim half of South Koreans suffer from underlying medical conditions

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Copyright AFP 2017-2020. All rights reserved.

Multiple Facebook posts shared repeatedly in March 2021 claim that 50 percent of South Koreans suffer from underlying medical conditions. The claim is misleading: there are no official reports to support the claim and the figures cited in the misleading posts are either outdated or inaccurate.

The claim was shared on Facebook here on March 5, 2021.

Screenshot of the misleading Facebook post, taken on March 8, 2021.

Part of the Korean-language claim reads: “As of March 2021, South Korea’s population stood at 50 million. 

“The number of people with high blood pressure was 11 million, that of those with diabetes stood at 10 million, with asthma at 1.37 million, with cancer at 2 million, with dementia and stroke together at 1 million. 

“This means 50 percent of South Koreans suffer underlying medical conditions.”

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The post circulated as South Korea continues to administer Covid-19 vaccines and combat the spread of the virus, as Yonhap News Agency reported here on March 9, 2021. Health officials have long warned that underlying medical conditions increase the risk of severe Covid-19.

Identical claims were also published on Facebook here, here and here.

However, the claim is misleading.

A review of the figures stated in the posts found they are all outdated or inaccurate.

The number of South Koreans with high blood pressure, for instance, is estimated to be 12 million as of 2020, according to the Korean Society of Hypertension. This figure is, in fact, larger than the purported statistic noted in the misleading claim. 

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The Diabetes Fact Sheet 2020, an annual study published by the Korean Diabetes Association, also states that South Korea has 4.94 million residents living in diabetes, not 10 million as the misleading posts claim. The Korean Diabetes Association figure is based on 2018 data, which is the most recent available.

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Meanwhile, South Korea’s National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) said on October 29, 2021, that 2.78 million people visited hospitals between March and July 2020 for diabetes treatment. In 2019, that figure was 2.67 million, according to NHIS.

South Korea’s Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service said on September 3, 2019, that about 1.46 million people visited hospitals in 2018 with symptoms of asthma, which is the latest and most credible number available. This differs slightly from the 1.37 million figure noted in the misleading posts.

The misleading posts claim that 2 million people suffer from cancer does appear to be in line with official statistics. In January 2021, South Korea’s National Cancer Center stated that there are 2.01 million cancer patients as of 2018, which is the most recent year of data collection. 

Finally, the misleading post claims the total number of people with either dementia and who have suffered a stroke is 1 million. This figure is higher than official statistics. 

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South Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare said that the number of people with dementia as of 2018 is roughly 750,000. Meanwhile, South Korea’s National Medical Center estimates the country had 120,584 stroke patients as of 2019. Both figures are the latest and most reliable sources to date.

The overall claim that 50 percent of South Koreans suffer from underlying health conditions is also not supported by credible sources.

In fact, a modelling study published here in The Lancet Global Health on June 15, 2021, found that an estimated 28 percent of South Korea’s population has at least one underlying health condition that could increase the risk of severe Covid-19.

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The study, which was conducted at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, used data from another international study on global health and UN population estimates to determine the prevalence of underlying conditions noted by World Health Organization guidelines.

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Facebook-Meta Earns the ‘Worst Company of 2021’ Title in This Survey

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Facebook has had its share of controversies this year. The company was under more scrutiny after whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked a series of internal documents.

Facebook parent Meta has been named the Worst Company of the Year (2021) by Yahoo Finance respondents. According to the publication, an “open-ended” survey was published on Yahoo Finance on December 4 and 5, where 1,541 respondents participated. Facebook received 8 percent of the write-in vote, but respondents were seemingly mad about the Robinhood trading app as well. Electric truck startup Nikola, which was named last year’s worst company by the same publication also faced respondents ire.

Yahoo Finance notes, “Facebook has had its share of controversies this year.” Starting in January, Meta-owned WhatsApp got caught up in a huge controversy after the messaging app announced a new privacy policy (Terms of Service). WhatsApp said it would collect user information and share it with third-party apps for a better user experience. However, the app gave users no choice but later made modifications to the policy under pressure. Similarly, the company was under more scrutiny after whistleblower and former Facebook employee Frances Haugen leaked a series of internal documents showing the company’s problematic practices. It was revealed that Meta-owned Instagram had a negative impact on teenage girls, but the company did almost nothing to rectify the problem.

Yahoo Finance even highlights, “At the same time, some critics, including conservatives, say Facebook over-policed the platform’s speech and stifled their voices.” Critics also blame Facebook and other social media platforms for not curbing hate speech that led to Capitol Building riots.

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However, around 30 percent of Yahoo Finance readers said that Facebook or Meta could redeem itself. One respondent suggested that the company could issue a formal apology for negligence and donate a sizable amount of its profits to a foundation to help reverse its harm.

On the other hand, respondents chose Microsoft as the Company of the Year (2021). The Satya Nadella-led company touched the trillion-mark this year and introduced notable upgrades. The most notable is the Windows 11 OS update that succeeds Windows 10.

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Facebook pays 1.7 Cr fine to Russia after failing to delete content Moscow deems illegal

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In the latest legal tussle with Russia over controversial social media regulation laws, Facebook paid 17 million roubles (Rs 1.7 Crore) for failing to remove content deemed illegal by Moscow. With a threat of potential larger fines looming, Facebook parent company Meta, owned by Mark Zuckerberg, is scheduled to face court next week over repeated violations of Russian legislation on content, Interfax News Agency reported. As per the latest updates, the social media giant could be fined a percentage of its annual revenue.

In October, Moscow sent state bailiffs to enforce the collection of 17 million roubles. Meanwhile, as per Interfax report citing a federal bailiffs’ database, on Sunday, there were more enforcement proceedings against the company. Apart from the popular social media app, Telegram has also paid 15 million roubles in fines for failing to comply with the Russian social media legislations that came into force in 2016.

Facebook pays $53k to Russia for refusing controversial social media laws

It is pertinent to mention that Facebook has locked horns with Moscow earlier in November, resulting in it paying 4 million roubles ($53,000) over its refusal to adhere to Russian data localisation laws, the Moscow Times reported. The Moscow court on November 25 had said that Facebook paid the fine levied in February, following which all proceedings against the US-based social media giant. The payment comes against the litigation filed against the company in 2018, alongside Twitter. The tech companies were also forced to pay an additional 3000 rubles ($40) for failing to comply with user data sharing rules as per the law. The Russian authorities have also previously blocked LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft, for failing to abide by the laws.

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Russian social media laws

As per Moscow Times, under the Russian social media regulation laws, all foreign technology companies are required to store data related to Russian customers and users on servers located in Russia. Additionally, the Russian tech companies will also have to share encryption data with the federal authorities as well as record user calls, messages and civil society group conversation records. The apparatus is said to be a severe breach of privacy rights and unfettered back-door access to personal data that could be used to harass Kremlin critics.

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

Meta has announced the arrival of a new Split Payments feature in Facebook Messenger. This feature, as the name suggests, will let you calculate and split expenses with others right from Facebook Messenger. This feature essentially looks to bring an easier method to share the cost of bills and expenses — for example, splitting a dinner bill with friends. Using this new Split Payment feature, Facebook Messenger users will be able to split bills evenly or modify the contribution for each individual, including their own.

The company took to its blog post to announce the new Split Payment feature in Facebook Messenger. 9to5Mac reports that this new bill splitting feature is still in beta and will be exclusive to US users at first. The rollout will begin early next week. As mentioned, it will help users share the cost of bills, expenses, and payments. This feature is especially useful for those who share an apartment and need to split the monthly rent and other expenses with their mates. It could also come handy at a group dinner with many people.

With Split Payments, users can add the number of people the expense needs to be divided with and, by default, the amount entered will be divided in equal parts. A user can also modify each person’s contribution including their own. To use Split Payments, click the Get Started button in a group chat or the Payments Hub in Messenger. Users can modify the contribution in the Split Payments option and send a notification to all the users who need to make payments. After entering a personalised message and confirming your Facebook Pay details, the request will be sent and viewable in the group chat thread.

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Once someone has made the payment, you can mark their transaction as ‘completed’. The Split Payment feature will automatically take into account your share as well and calculate the amount owed accordingly.


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Tasneem Akolawala is a Senior Reporter for Gadgets 360. Her reporting expertise encompasses smartphones, wearables, apps, social media, and the overall tech industry. She reports out of Mumbai, and also writes about the ups and downs in the Indian telecom sector. Tasneem can be reached on Twitter at @MuteRiot, and leads, tips, and releases can be sent to tasneema@ndtv.com.

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