Facebook to remove misleading claims about COVID-19 vaccine

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
Facebook
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In response to the increasing number of misleading pandemic information on social media, Facebook has decided to remove false claims about COVID-19 vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts.

The social media giant stated in a recent blog post that, in the coming weeks it will start removing false information or conspiracy theories about vaccines, in light of the news COVID-19 shots will soon be rolling out across the world.

Last day, Britain approved the Pfizer vaccine and is up to begin a mass inoculation program. The US authorities are also considering the authorization of two vaccine candidates.

Facebook’s current rules against misleading information and conspiracy theories about the pandemic will take down coronavirus false claims that create a risk of imminent harm, while labeling and reducing sharing of other misinformation that fail to reach that threshold.

The outbreak of pandemic has created a surge in false claims regarding the new coronavirus vaccines on social media, which includes anti-vaccine posts shared across various platforms and by different groups, as per researchers.

According to the nonprofit First Draft’s November report, about 84 percent of interactions developed by vaccine-related conspiracy content came from Facebook pages and Facebook-owned Instagram.

The social media company stated that it would remove debunked COVID-19 vaccine false claims like the vaccines’ efficacy is being tested on specific populations without their consent, vaccines contain microchips or any other misinformation.

“This could include false claims about the safety, efficacy, ingredients or side effects of the vaccines,” the company said in a blog post. Facebook did not specify when it would begin to remove these false claims but mentioned that it would not be able to start enforcing these policies overnight.

Facebook has rarely enforced its policy to remove content that risks imminent harm. Earlier, it removed vaccine misinformation in Samoa where a measles outbreak killed dozens and it deleted false claims about a polio vaccine drive in Pakistan that were leading to violence against health workers.

The social media company which has taken steps to promote reliable information about vaccines stated in October, that it would ban ads that discourage people from getting vaccinated. In past weeks, Facebook removed a prominent anti-vaccine page for repeatedly breaking COVID-19 misinformation rules.

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