While Facebook has announced plans to remove false claims about coronavirus vaccines, it has not revealed when it will begin cracking down on the conspiracy theory.
Social media giant said claims about vaccines posted on Facebook and Instagram would be removed once they were exposed by public health experts. According to Facebook, the move builds on an existing policy to remove false COVID claims, which has been applied to 12 million pieces of content since March.
“This is yet another way we are applying our policy to remove false information about the virus that could lead to imminent physical harm,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.
Among the things that would need to be reviewed are false claims about how safe or effective the vaccine is and false information about its side effects.
“For example, we will remove false claims that COVID-19 vaccines contain microchips, or anything else that is not on the official list of vaccine ingredients,” the statement said.
Facebook would also remove conspiracy theories about COVID-19 vaccines that are known to be untrue, such as certain populations being tested for treatment without their consent.
Facebook has come under pressure to address problematic content such as the QAnon conspiracy theory and the manipulation of its platform during the last two U.S. presidential elections.
In July 2018, Facebook began deleting general anti-vaccination information that could lead to physical harm, and has since gradually tightened its rules. In April this year, it was reported that moderators had removed hundreds of thousands of pieces of misinformation about COVID-19.
In 2019, Facebook banned advertising with misinformation about vaccines and said it would curb groups and sites that spread misinformation about vaccines.
However, Facebook could not reveal when its latest measures would take effect, as Facebook added in its statement: “We will not be able to start enforcing these policies overnight. When asked for further comments, Facebook referred Washington Newsday to its original statement.
The BBC reported that Facebook’s policy was accelerated following the approval of Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine by the UK Medicines Agency. On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that a comprehensive vaccination will be carried out in his country starting next week.
On Monday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he wanted the social media giant to provide its users with “authoritative information” about the vaccines.
During a video interview with leading U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, Zuckerberg said his company has been in contact with the new Biden government and that “there will be some important things we can do together. He did not elaborate further.
Statista’s graph below shows the number of doses of coronavirus vaccine secured by the UK.