Facebook says it will take down false vaccine claims

Elizabeth Culliford and Sheila Dang, Reuters

Posted at Feb 09 2021 04:53 AM

Facebook Inc. said on Monday it will expand a list of false health claims it bans from the platform to include debunked claims about vaccines in general, such as that they are toxic or cause autism.

The social media company said in a blog post it was increasing the types of false claims about the coronavirus, its vaccine and other vaccines that it will remove, including that COVID-19 is a man-made virus, and that vaccines are dangerous. Such claims are already prohibited in ads on the platform.

Facebook said it would remove groups, pages and accounts that repeatedly share the debunked claims.

The company has introduced more stringent policies to combat COVID-19 vaccine misinformation during the pandemic, but has had a more hands-off approach to misinformation about other vaccines, which has rarely been removed and only when it was considered to risk "imminent harm".

In December, Facebook announced it would remove false claims about COVID-19 vaccines that had been debunked by public health experts, though in recent weeks news reports have identified Facebook pages, groups and Instagram accounts still spreading these false claims.

Facebook also said it would help users find out where and when they can receive the coronavirus vaccine.

It will partner with Johns Hopkins and the AARP to reach Black, Latinx, Native Americans and people over 50 with educational content that addresses concerns those groups may have about the new vaccine. 

(Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford and Sheila Dang; Editing by Jane Merriman and Alex Richardson)