As several countries prepare to rollout COVID-19 vaccinations, Facebook on Thursday said it would start removing misinformation on them — expanding on its policy to crackdown on bogus coronavirus claims. Previously, Facebook had been taking action against false COVID-19 claims that could lead to “imminent physical harm,” and in October started banning anti-vaccination advertisements.
Moving forward, Facebook said it will purge any content that make COVID-19 vaccine claims that have been debunked by public health experts.
“Given the recent news that Covid-19 vaccines will soon be rolling out around the world, over the coming weeks we will also start removing false claims about these vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts on Facebook and Instagram,” a Facebook rep told The Guardian. “This is another way that we are applying our policy to remove misinformation about the virus that could lead to imminent physical harm.”
Under Facebook’s previous guidelines, the social network removed 12 million posts between March and October for sharing fake COVID-19 news.
The decision comes a few days after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the site would start highlighting “authoritative information” on COVID-19 vaccines, although it remains unclear how that’ll look exactly. It also comes after the U.K. announced it would start rolling out the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine within days; in the U.S., the F.D.A. is expected to make a decision on both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines this month.
Facebook shares were down 1.5% today to $283.26.