Facebook said Monday that it plans to remove posts from its platform with flawed claims about vaccines, including repealing claims that vaccines cause autism or that it is safer for people to contract Covid-19 than vaccinations to obtain.
The social network has increasingly changed its content policies over the past year as the coronavirus has risen sharply. In October the social network prohibited Individuals and companies from buying advertisements containing false or misleading information about vaccines. In December, Facebook said It would remove posts with claims debunked by the World Health Organization or government agencies.
Monday’s move goes even further by targeting unpaid posts to the website, and especially Facebook pages and groups. Rather than just targeting misinformation about Covid vaccines, the update includes false information about all vaccines. Facebook has consulted with the World Health Organization and other leading health institutes to determine this a list of false or misleading claims about Covid and vaccines in general.
In the past, Facebook had announced that it would only “rank down” or push down on people’s news feeds, leading to misleading or false claims about vaccines, making it harder to find such groups or posts. Now posts, pages and groups that contain such untruths will be completely removed from the platform.
“Building trust in these vaccines is critical, so we’re launching the world’s largest campaign to help public health organizations share accurate information about Covid-19 vaccines and encourage people to get vaccinated as soon as possible they have vaccines available, “said Kang-Xing Jin, director of health at Facebook, in a company blog post.
The company said the changes were in response to a recent decision made by the Facebook oversight board, an independent body that reviews decisions made by the company’s policy team and determines whether they are fair. In a decision, the board said Facebook needed to create a new standard for health-related misinformation because its current rules were “inappropriately vague”.
Facebook also said it would give $ 120 million in advertising loans to ministries of health, non-governmental organizations and United Nations agencies to help distribute reliable Covid-19 vaccines and preventive health information. As vaccination centers become more prevalent, Facebook would help direct people to places to get the vaccine.
Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, has been proactive against false information in connection with the coronavirus. He has Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, frequently hosted on Facebook for live video updates on America’s response to Covid. In his private philanthropy, Mr. Zuckerberg has also vowed to “eradicate all diseases” and pledge billions to fight viruses and other diseases.
However, Mr Zuckerberg was also a staunch advocate of free speech on Facebook and previously hesitated to contain most falsehoods, even if they were potentially dangerous. The exception was Facebook’s policy of not tolerating statements that could lead to “immediate, direct physical harm” to people on or outside the platform.
Facebook has been criticized for this stance, including for allowing President Donald J. Trump to stay on the platform until after the January 6 uprising at the US Capitol.
For years, public health advocates and outside critics have questioned Facebook’s refusal to remove false or misleading claims about vaccines and leave anti-vaccination groups untouched. That led to one Increase in incorrect vaccine information, often by people or groups who post other harmful misinformation on the site. Even when Facebook tried to update its guidelines, it often left loopholes that were exploited by misinformation spreaders.
Facebook announced on Monday that it was also changing its search tools to promote relevant, authoritative results on Covid and vaccine information while making it harder to find accounts that are preventing people from getting vaccinated.