Facebook, the largest social media platform of the world has said that any ad that seeks to discourage people from getting vaccinated will be banned by it. This is a part of the company’s new campaign on public health aimed at spreading information about the flu vaccine.
This latest move by the social media company is in opposition top its previous stand on the issue which, while prohibiting ads that spread misinformation, allowed those that it perceived did not have any false claims about vaccination.
However ads advocating for or against legislation or government policies on vaccines, including those for Cvoid-19, would still be allowed by it, the company said in a blogpost,
The company will still allow content and discussion against vaccination to be published organically on the platform, including in Facebook groups.
Compared to its community standards applying to individual users, its advertising policies were “overall stricter”, said a spokesman for the company. Outside of advertising, Facebook also had other policies on health misinformation, he said, which included red flagging false statements for fact checks.
“If we removed all rumors and hoaxes, the content would still be available elsewhere on the internet, social media ecosystem – or even around the dinner table,” the spokesman said. “By leaving this content up we can provide people with important information and context instead of creating an information vacuum.”
The new policy on vaccine misinformation would be initiated within the next few days, Facebook has said. Te social media company has been facing increased scrutiny and pressure from lawmakers and public health groups to proactively act against misinformation and anti-vaccine content being circulated on its platform. In recent weeks, several related policy changes have been annocuned by it.
Content denying or distorting the Holocaust was banned by Facebook on Monday. “Free speech” over censoring Holocaust denial on the platform had been preferred previously by Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. Bur because of “data showing an increase in antisemitic violence”, he had changed his stand in recent months, Zuckerberg said on Monday.
Content related to the QAnon conspiracy theory was also banned by the social media platform last week. It had also announced that top stop the spread of election misinformation, it would also stop political ads after election day in the US, 3 November.
The pandemic had highlighted the importance of preventive health behaviors, even though a Covid-19 vaccine would not be available for some time, Facebook said in its blogpost while announcing the new vaccine information policy.
It would also engage in sharing vaccine messaging across the platform and would be working closely with public health organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO) and Unicef, Facebook said.
“Vaccines have always been a global priority for Unicef, and will be even more so as the world continues to battle Covid-19,” said Diane Summers, a senior adviser at Unicef. “Building demand for vaccination in communities worldwide is key to saving lives. Our collaboration with Facebook is part of our efforts to address vaccine misinformation and share resonant and reassuring information on vaccination.”
(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)