Facebook Yanking Down Fake Claims on Vaccines, COVID

Social media giant says it's launching 'largest worldwide campaign' for credible vaccine info
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 9, 2021 7:21 AM CST
Facebook Launches 'Largest Worldwide' Push on Vax Info
In this April 14, 2020, file photo, the thumbs-up like logo is shown on a sign at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

"There's still a long road ahead" in getting the coronavirus under control, but to encourage people to get vaccinated, Facebook is launching "the largest worldwide campaign" to share credible information about COVID inoculation—which, in turn, means it will increase its push to ban misinformation about it. "We are expanding our efforts to remove false claims on Facebook and Instagram about COVID-19, COVID-19 vaccines, and vaccines in general during the pandemic," Kang-Xing Jin, Facebook's health chief, said in a Monday blog post. The site has worked with such groups as the World Health Organization to compile a list of debunked claims on vaccines and COVID-19—including that they cause autism, or that the disease is no worse than the flu—and says it will yank down content that makes these types of claims.

Such vaccine misinformation was already barred from ads on Facebook. Still, Recode notes that "changing rules and enforcing rules are two different things," and that false claims may still circulate on the site before moderators get wind of them. In fact, the Guardian poked around Instagram after Monday's announcement and found that a search for "COVID vaccine" still directed users to conspiracy theory accounts. Per the Verge, it's also unclear how long COVID misinformation will be monitored like this, as the site says it will be removing it only "for the duration of the COVID public health emergency." Facebook says it's also working with health officials to work on a way to inform users when and where they can get vaccinated when they're eligible. (More Facebook stories.)

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