MENLO PARK, Calif. - As the push to get more people vaccinated against COVID-19 gains steam in the Bay Area and across the country, Facebook has announced it’s helping in the effort by working to arm people with reliable information and combat false claims about the vaccines.
The Menlo Park-based social media giant on Monday outlined the measures it’s taking, which includes providing users information on where and when they can get vaccinated.
Facebook said that starting this week, people can find information about vaccine eligibility and other resources to help get their shots by going to its COVID-19 Information Center, which will offer links to local health agencies. The model was similar to the one Facebook used to help people get voting information during the elections.
Facebook to provide links to help users find where and when they can get their COVID-19 vaccine.
"In 2021 we’re focused on supporting health leaders and public officials in their work to vaccinate billions of people against COVID-19," the company said in a news release. "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."
To that end, the company said effective immediately, it will take aggressive measures and expand efforts to remove false claims about the virus and the vaccines, adding it’s already removed 12 million pieces of content on Facebook and Instagram containing misinformation "that could lead to imminent physical harm."
Facebook said its list of false claims will now expand to include debunked information including statements about the virus being man-made or manufactured, misinformation that vaccines are not effective, toxic, dangerous or can cause autism, and claims that it’s safer to get the virus than to get the vaccine.
Facebook provided a full list here, noting it already bans these claims in ads that show up on its site.
The company planned to focus the new, expanded policy on pages, groups and personal accounts that share such misinformation and warned that those parties that repeatedly violate the rules may be removed altogether from its social media platforms.
In addition, Facebook said it was continuing to improve search results for those seeking information about COVID-19 and vaccines by working to "promote relevant, authoritative results and provide third-party resources to connect people to expert information about vaccines." And on Instagram, the company said in the coming weeks, it will make it more challenging for those using the search feature to find accounts that discourage people from getting vaccinated.
The company said it’s partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other health agencies, as well as governments in more than 120 countries, as part of its effort to provide timely information and updated research on COVID-19.