Facebook announces plans to remove vaccine misinformation content

The social media platform said it will help people find vaccination sites.

February 8, 2021, 6:07 PM

Facebook announced Monday it will be taking stricter measures to crack down on misinformation about vaccines and said it will be doing more to help users find resources on getting their shot.

Kang-Xing Jin, Facebook’s head of health, said in a blog post that the social media company will be working to ensure users on its platforms have trust and confidence in the coronavirus vaccines. The company said it expanded the list of prohibited false claims made on Facebook and Instagram posts about the virus and the vaccines. It announced that users would be subject to account removal if they spread the debunked information.

"There’s still a long road ahead, and in 2021 we’re focused on supporting health leaders and public officials in their work to vaccinate billions of people against COVID-19," Jin said in a statement.

Some of the false claims that Facebook will watch out for include the unproven claims that vaccines cause autism and the misinformation that coronavirus was human-made. Jin said the company will particularly focus on pages and groups that violate the new policies.

PHOTO: A person uses a laptop in this stock photo.
STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images

If those pages and groups repeatedly share the false vaccination claims, they are subject to removal, as are the users that post them, according to the company.

"We are also requiring some admins for groups with admins or members who have violated our COVID-19 policies to temporarily approve all posts within their group," Jin said. "Claims about COVID-19 or vaccines that do not violate these policies will still be eligible for review by our third-party fact-checkers, and if they are rated false, they will be labeled and demoted."

In October, Facebook announced it would prohibit ads that discouraged people from getting the vaccine, but stopped short of banning posts from users that spread vaccine misinformation.

The social media company has come under criticism for years by health officials and elected leaders for not doing enough to stop the spread of vaccine falsehoods.

PHOTO: People wait in line to enter a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination site at Yankee Stadium on Feb. 5, 2021 in the Bronx, New York.
People wait in line to enter a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination site at Yankee Stadium on Feb. 5, 2021 in the Bronx, New York.
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Facebook said it would offer $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."

It will also use its systems to redirect users to trustworthy information and resources on the coronavirus and vaccine sites.

"When people search for vaccine or COVID-19 related content on Facebook, we promote relevant, authoritative results and provide third-party resources to connect people to expert information about vaccines," the company said. "On Instagram, in addition to surfacing authoritative results in Search, in the coming weeks we’re making it harder to find accounts in search that discourage people from getting vaccinated."

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