Facebook to remove false claims about COVID-19 vaccines

Facebook vaccines

Facebook has announced that it will start removing misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts, in the coming weeks on Facebook & Instagram.

As few pharmaceutical companies have announced the concluding stages of developing COVID-19 vaccines, and rollout; Facebook is attempting to curb the spread of false information that may hinder vaccination programs.

Social media platforms have always been vulnerable to fake news and false rumors, which often lead to real-world consequences and may harm an individual or groups’ physical health, as the global pandemic begins to show signs of ending, anti-vaccine conspiracy theories & false information may slow down the course of immunization programs.

Facebook intends to tackle this problem on their platforms by removing false claims about the safety, efficacy, ingredients, or side effects of the vaccines.

Claims such as “COVID-19 vaccines contain microchips”, “specific populations are being used without their consent to test the vaccine’s safety”, or any other misinformation about the ingredients of the vaccine, or posts that contradict statements by public health officials and experts, or theories that Facebook knows is false, will be removed from the platform.

In October Facebook had also announced a ban on ads that discourage vaccine use. If an ad explicitly suggests not getting a vaccine, it will be rejected.

Also Read: Facebook launches website to aid brands in creating a social impact

Although, ads that are for or against government policies around vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines are still allowed. Anyone running these ads would be required to be authorized to run ads about such social issues, elections, or politics, and include a ‘Paid for by’ label.

US has always been known to be a hub of anti-vaccine theories even before the pandemic, the theories have continued to emerge during the COVID-19 outbreak too.

Presently, when a search contains the keyword ‘vaccine’ Facebook shows an option to visit the WHO website containing vaccine information at the top of the search results. Although, several groups such as ‘Vaccine Haters‘, ‘Vaccines Exposed‘, and ‘Anti Vaccine & Natural Cures‘ continue to exist on Facebook.

Along with Facebook, YouTube also recently announced videos with COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, or contradict COVID-19 vaccine facts provided by authorized health experts will be removed.

While the scientific challenges have been seemingly resolved, psychological assurance is the need of the hour, there is a considerable amount of skepticism against the COVID-19 vaccines, some of which is outright opposition.

Along with social media platforms seeking to curb misinformation, countries with growing skepticism are also taking communicative steps. For instance, former US Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton are volunteering to get publicly vaccinated to build trust.