Social media giants Facebook has embarked on a campaign minimise or free its platform of misinformation about all vaccines. In a statement issued on their blogpost yesterday, 8th February, facebook launched this campaign to make authentic information about the COVID19 easily accessible to its users.
The top agenda of this campaign is “helping people find where and when they can get vaccinated-similar to how we helped people find information about how to vote during elections” read the statement.
This is something that the Mark Zuckerburg led franchise has already played a big role in as they have connected over 2 billion people from 189 countries to reliable information about the novel virus that was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation on March 11, 2020.
This has been achieved through drastic measures like the removal of more than 12 million pieces of content on Facebook and Instagram containing misinformation that could lead to imminent physical harm.
It should be remembered that Facebook flagged Makerere University’s post about its launch of Uganda’s first clinical trials for a coronavirus drug at Mulago Hospital. They however issued an apology and reinstated the post sparking criticism from their Ugandan users.
Partnerships and Funding
Facebook has also partnered with with governments in more than 120 countries as well as multilateral organisations like the World Health Organisation and UNICEF by providing these organisations with $120 million in ad credits to deliver timely information about COVID19.
Researchers and public health officials in over 450 organisations and close to 70 countries have also benefited from this policy as they have used Facebook’s publicly available datasets which have real-time data and tools to help inform disease forecasting and understand prevention measures. This opportunity crosses out to all diseases and isn’t limited to only COVID19
The battle against misinformation
These new community guidelines are set to apply to user-generated posts as well as paid advertisements, which were already banned from including such misinformation. Instagram users will also face the same restrictions which will see their posts or even accounts flagged.
Facebook has been at the forefront of combating misinformation during this trying moment by repeatedly updating its policies on Covid-19 content overtime. In mid-2020, they were adding to posts about coronavirus a panel of facts from the United States’ Centre for Disease Control and Prevention to combat misinformation.
On instagram, they have often made misinformation about vaccines less visible on its platform but as of December 2020, they have removed some posts spreading wrong information about the disease. Most of these posts have been about the vaccines with various people claiming they contain microchips and that it’s safer to contract COVID19, that to get vaccinated since the vaccines are not safe.
Another of the theories that have been flagged by facebook is one claiming that 5G technology contributes or causes coronavirus infections. These however have been mainly spread through WhatsApp’s audio features.
Facebook, however has a long way to go in this fight against misinformation about COVID19 that we all need to take part in since the battle cannot be achieved by one player. This is because as facebook bans one account as it has previously done, the operators create another which surely gets the attention since the human mind is so gullible. Most of the accounts spreading these false theories on instagram still pop up among the top search results for Covid vaccine.