Facebook has been historically resistant to monitoring any more content than they deem strictly necessary, but times are changing. The case could be made that Facebook is the world’s single largest depository of misinformation, and given how much that misinformation has divided a nation along partisan and epistemological lines, Zuckerberg el al. are feeling pressure to act. And they’re doing so about vaccine misinformation.
Facebook has been removing posts with misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine for a while, but now they’re expanding the policy to include misinformation about all vaccines. The company worked with the World Health Organization to determine a list of the most common vaccine myths on social media, and plans to flag any and all such posts for the bin. In the past, Facebook pushed anti-vaxx content down further on the feed as a way of dealing with false or misleading posts — now it looks like such posts will disappear altogether.
“Building trust and confidence in these vaccines is critical, so we’re launching the largest worldwide campaign to help public health organizations share accurate information about Covid-19 vaccines and encourage people to get vaccinated as vaccines become available to them,” Kang-Xing Jin, head of health at Facebook, said in a company blog post.
All of this is a result of a series of decisions made by the Facebook Oversight Board — an independent group that evaluates decisions made by the Facebook team to make sure that their decisions are fair and ethical.
The company is also giving $120 million to “health ministries, nongovernmental organizations and United Nations agencies” that spread accurate vaccine information, to help get the word out.