Effective immediately, Facebook says it is redoubling its efforts to “remove false claims on Facebook and Instagram about COVID-19, COVID-19 vaccines and vaccines in general during the pandemic.”
The social media platform that’s been dubbed a “health misinformation superspreader” and roundly criticized for its two-faced approach to taking action against health hoaxes, conspiracy theories, racial justice, bullying, and politics, claims that it’s already been hard at work cleansing information that has been “debunked by public health experts”—particularly on pages and in groups—and prohibiting further claims in ads. Facebook began offering free ads to the World Health Organization in March 2019.
Indeed, the company began attempting to curb health misinformation, including anti-vaccine content, even before the pandemic. In 2018 it began deleting alternative health pages. And in 2019, it again considered curtailing questionable content during the dual rise of a measles outbreak and the proliferation of anti-vaccine content across social media platforms.
Facebook says it is leaning on the expertise of the WHO and others in deciding which claims to remove, which include:
- COVID-19 is man-made or manufactured
- Vaccines are not effective at preventing the disease they are meant to protect against
- It’s safer to get the disease than to get the vaccine
- Vaccines are toxic, dangerous, or cause autism
You can see a complete list of the claims, including those surrounding vaccine content and COVID-19 more broadly, that Facebook says it’s working to purge here.