Social media giant Facebook announced that it will start removing all false claims about COVID-19 and its vaccine in all of its platforms including Instagram. This is in preparation of the distribution of the vaccine around the world by early 2021.
The policy that Facebook has rolled out is to remove all false claims about COVID-19 and its vaccine, with anti-vaxxers creating Facebook groups and stating that the vaccine could lead to physical harm.
There are also groups that promotes fake cures and dangerous conspiracy theories about the connection of COVID-19 to 5G. Between March 2020 to October 2020, Facebook has removed 12 million posts after its policy was implemented.
Although Facebook has made changes when it comes to claims about the virus, the company has not taken a firm stance on the vaccine. All Facebook did when Pfizer and Moderna introduced vaccines was to ban ads that promote conspiracy theories leading to anti-vaccination.
Facebook has also only removed posts that has misinformation about vaccines in Samoa and Pakistan, but those vaccine claims were not connected to COVID-19.
On November 30, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a livestream with Dr. Anthony Fauci that the site would show its users “authoritative information about the vaccines” but he did not elaborate on how the company plans to distribute the information, CNBC reported.
Now that major pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca stated that they have developed COVID-19 vaccines that are 95% effective and after the United Kingdom gave the pharmaceutical companies the green light to distribute the vaccines in the country, Facebook has outlined a stance to remove all false information about them.
Facebook said that it will start removing false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines that have been debunked by medical experts on Facebook and Instagram.
The company stated that it will remove false information about the efficacy, safety, ingredients and side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to NBC News.
Numerous anti-vaxxer groups claim that COVID-19 vaccines have microchips that will be inserted into the human body so the government can track the people, but that is not true.
Facebook added since the COVID-19 vaccine development is still early and the facts and information about it can still evolve, it will regularly update the posts that were removed based on guidance from medical health experts as they study and learn more about the vaccines.
The QAnon conspiracy theory
The tightening of the guidelines made by Facebook on all its platforms came after problematic and dangerous contents were posted on the site, such as posts about Holocaust denial and the unfounded QAnon conspiracy theory.
Facebook were criticized by the way it handled the toxic and harmful contents earlier this year, with major brands pulling their advertisements on the platforms. The company also faced challenges during the U.S presidential election in November, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Removing all misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines on all social media platforms will be difficult as governments around the world are now looking at immunizing people next year against the disease that forced the world to take a pause for months.
Meanwhile, other social media platforms such as YouTube and TikTok stated that they will also remove false claims about COVID-19 vaccines. Twitter also stated that it is working on tagging false claims on the site before the vaccine is distributed.