Facebook issues update on COVID-19 misinformation

Wednesday, 10 February, 2021

Facebook issues update on COVID-19 misinformation

Facebook has announced important updates to its misinformation policy in relation to COVID-19, COVID-19 vaccines and vaccines in general during the pandemic.

The social media giant will expand its efforts to remove false claims from Facebook and Instagram, following consultations with leading health organisations, including the World Health Organization (WHO).

“We are expanding the list of false claims we will remove to include additional debunked claims about the coronavirus and vaccines,” Facebook VP Integrity Guy Rosen posted in an update. “This includes claims such as:

  • COVID-19 is man-made or manufactured.
  • Vaccines are not effective at preventing the disease they are meant to protect against.
  • It’s safer to get the disease than to get the vaccine.
  • Vaccines are toxic, dangerous or cause autism.”

The full list of claims is available here.

“These new policies will help us continue to take aggressive action against misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines,” Rosen added.

Facebook Groups, Facebook Pages and accounts on Facebook and Instagram that repeatedly share debunked claims may be removed altogether. Facebook also announced that it will continue to work with health partners to help people access accurate information and increase general public confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine.

Facebook Head of Health Kang-Xing Jin said, “We’re working with health organisations and community leaders to run campaigns on our platform promoting accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines and encouraging people to get vaccinated. We’re giving $120 million in ad credits to help health ministries, NGOs and UN agencies reach billions of people around the world with COVID-19 vaccine and preventive health information. And we’re providing training and marketing support to help governments and health organisations move quickly and reach the right people with the latest vaccine information.”

To assist researchers and public health officials, the social media platform has provided publicly available real-time data and tools to help inform disease forecasting and understand the effectiveness of prevention measures. The Data for Good program involves collaboration with more than 450 organisations across the world.

Global survey data from Facebook and the University of Maryland on vaccine acceptance rates includes data for Australia. The Data for Good tool estimates the percentage of people willing to be vaccinated. According to the tool, 77.4% of Australians would choose to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/peshkova

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