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Facebook steps up crackdown on vaccine misinformation

Posted on: February 9, 2021 by Mariella Brown

Facebook has banned misinformation about all vaccines in its latest effort to crack down on harmful material on its platforms.

The tech giant has announced it is focusing on supporting health leaders in their work to vaccinate billions of people against Covid-19 by launching a worldwide campaign to build trust and confidence in vaccines.

Facebook is expanding the list of false claims it will remove from its platforms to include additional debunked claims about Covid-19 and vaccines. This includes false claims that Covid-19 is man-made or manufactured and that vaccines are toxic, dangerous or cause autism.

The platform has said that groups, pages and accounts that repeatedly share these debunked claims may be removed altogether.

The news follows an agreement between tech giants and the UK government in November committing in principle that no company should “profit from or promote” Covid-19 anti-vaccine mis or disinformation.

Measures to promote vaccination were also announced by Facebook. This includes helping people find where and when they can get vaccinated; sharing credible information from health organisations and governments; and collecting data on topics such as people’s willingness to get a Covid-19 vaccine.

Data collected by academic institutions via Facebook has shown that people’s willingness to get a Covid-19 vaccine varies widely across the world, with over 90% of people in Denmark saying they would take a vaccine compared to 71% in Argentina and 62% in the Philippines.

As a result, the platform has announced $120m 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.

Kang-Xing Jin, Head of Health at Facebook, said: “In 2021 we’re focused on supporting health leaders and public officials in their work to vaccinate billions of people against COVID-19. Building trust and confidence in these vaccines is critical, so we’re launching the largest worldwide campaign to help public health organizations share accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines and encourage people to get vaccinated as vaccines become available to them.”