LONDON: Facebook Inc has said that it will expand a list of false health claims it bans from the platform to include debunked claims about vaccines in general, such as that they are toxic or cause autism.
The social media company said in a blog post it was increasing the types of false claims about the coronavirus, its vaccine and other vaccines that it will remove, including that COVID-19 is a man-made virus, and that vaccines are dangerous. Such claims are already prohibited in ads on the platform.
Facebook said it would remove groups, pages and accounts that repeatedly share the debunked claims. The social network said that the move is taken after consultations with leading health organisations, including the WHO.
We’re running the largest worldwide campaign to promote authoritative information about COVID-19 vaccines. https://t.co/AVD44IGaWn
— Facebook Newsroom (@fbnewsroom) February 8, 2021
Starting this week in the US, Facebook will feature links in the Covid-19 Information Center to the local Ministry of Health websites to help people understand whether they`re eligible to get vaccinated and how to do so.
“And in the coming weeks, as more information becomes available, we`ll continue to expand this feature to more countries and improve it to make it easier for people to see where and when they can get vaccinated in just a few taps,” Facebook informed.
The social media company has introduced more stringent policies to combat COVID-19 vaccine misinformation during the pandemic, but has had a more hands-off approach to misinformation about other vaccines, which has rarely been removed and only when it was considered to risk “imminent harm”.
Building trust and confidence in vaccines is critical, so “we`re launching the largest worldwide campaign to help public health organisations share accurate information about Covid-19 vaccines and encourage people to get vaccinated as vaccines become available to them,” the company said.
In December, Facebook announced it would remove false claims about COVID-19 vaccines that had been debunked by public health experts, though in recent weeks news reports have identified Facebook pages, groups and Instagram accounts still spreading these false claims.
Facebook also said it would help users find out where and when they can receive the coronavirus vaccine. It will partner with Johns Hopkins and the AARP to reach Black, Latinx, Native Americans and people over 50 with educational content that addresses concerns those groups may have about the new vaccine.
Facebook is giving USD 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.