UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, receiving his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in New York, 28 January 2021 /Photo: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Facebook moves against Vaccine misinformation

Facebook Inc has announced that it had started adding labels to posts that discussed the safety of Covid-19 vaccines and would soon label all posts about the vaccines. The social media giant would as well as launch a tool to help people find available vaccine sites nearby.

The social media company, which has been criticised by lawmakers and researchers for allowing vaccine misinformation to spread on its platforms, said in a blog post on Monday that measures were now in place to check that.

It also said it was launching a tool in the US to give people information about where to get COVID-19 vaccines and adding a COVID-19 information area to Instagram, its photo-sharing site.

False claims and conspiracies about the COVID-19 vaccines have proliferated on social media platforms during the pandemic.

Facebook and Instagram, which recently tightened their policies after taking a hands-off approach to vaccine misinformation, remain home to large accounts, pages and groups that promote false claims about the shots and can be easily found through keyword searches.

Facebook’s Chief Product Officer, Chris Cox, said in an interview that the company had taken viral false claims “very seriously” but said there was “a huge gray area of people who had concerns.

“The best thing to do in that huge gray area is just to show up with authoritative information in a helpful way, be a part of the conversation and do it with health experts,” Cox added.

The company said it was labelling Facebook and Instagram posts that discussed the safety of COVID-19 vaccines with text, saying the vaccines went through safety and effectiveness tests before approval.

In the blog post, it also said since expanding its list of banned false claims about the coronavirus and vaccines in February, it had removed an additional 2 million pieces of content from Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook said it had also implemented temporary measures including reducing the reach of content from users who repeatedly shared content marked false by fact-checkers.

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