Facebook Is Finally Targeting Anti-Vax Pages and Groups
The changes come months after the start of the vaccine rollout in the U.S.
Facebook announced in a blog post on Monday that it intends to start removing vaccine misinformation from groups and pages, expanding its focus on “debunked claims” about the Covid-19 vaccine.
“We’re running the largest worldwide campaign to promote authoritative information about COVID-19 vaccines,” wrote Kang-Xing Jin, Facebook’s head of health, adding that “following consultations with leading health organizations, including the WHO, we’re expanding the list of false claims we will remove to include additional debunked claims about COVID-19 and vaccines.”
“Today’s change was a response to a ruling from Facebook’s Oversight Board,” the New York Times reported. In an issuance of its recent rulings last month, the Facebook Oversight Board, an internally founded and funded third-party review body, called the company’s application of its policies to vaccine content “inappropriately vague” and encouraged Facebook to create a new community standard on health misinformation.
Anti-vaccine groups and content continue to propagate on Facebook and Instagram despite the company’s previous commitments to remove posts spreading misinformation debunked by health experts. In October 2020, Facebook prohibited the purchasing of anti-vaccine ads. In December, as the United States began its nationwide vaccine rollout, Facebook said it would target Covid-19 vaccine hoaxes, noting, “We will not be able to start enforcing these policies overnight.” Later that month, OneZero found numerous anti-vax groups blatantly spreading misinformation about the vaccine, such as the baseless claim that it can change a recipient’s DNA.
At the time, Facebook did not respond to OneZero’s questions on how it would be enforcing these policies in groups.
The update expands Facebook’s moderation efforts to all vaccines, not just the Covid-19 immunization. It also implies that Facebook will be targeting vaccine misinformation across groups and pages, which is where anti-vax ideology has been allowed to flourish en masse, and sometimes in secret with private communities.