Only a small group of users are spreading vaccine doubts: Facebook

By Amirtha P S, Trainee Reporter
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The American social media giant Facebook’s research has found that a small group of users are responsible for bringing up conversations that raise suspicions over COVID-19 vaccines.

According to the report, Facebook research discovered 10 out of 638 population segments contributed to 50 percent of content related to vaccine skepticism. Just 111 users accounted for half of all vaccine-hesitant content in the segment with the highest vaccine hesitancy.

The research further discovered an overlap between communities that have raised doubts over the vaccines and those who have a bonding with the conspiracy theory group QAnon.

“Public health experts have made it clear that tackling vaccine hesitancy is a top priority in the COVID response, which is why we’ve launched a global campaign that has already connected 2 billion people to reliable information from health authorities,”  Facebook spokeswoman Dani Lever said.

The new report will possibly help the social networking company to create new policies or improve existing ones to address misinformation related to the COVID-19. Last month, Facebook broadened its measure to reduce false claims related to COVID-19 in its platform. The expanded efforts also cover misinformation on coronavirus vaccines and vaccines in general during the pandemic.

Some of the false claims, Facebook said, it will remove are “COVID-19 is man-made or manufactured”, “vaccines are not effective at preventing the disease they are meant to protect against”, and “it’s safer to get the disease than to get the disease.” 

The report further points out that Facebook will have to consider various things if it plans to further control such content. For instance, it will have to distinguish between content that expresses concerns and misinformation.

“Vaccine conversations are nuanced, so content can’t always be clearly divided into helpful and harmful. It’s hard to draw the line on posts that contain people’s personal experiences with vaccines,” Kang-Xing Jin, Facebook’s head of health earlier stated.

Related: Facebook, Google come to blows against the bill that help US news industry

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