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Facebook to remove false claims, conspiracy theories about COVID-19 vaccines

Vivek Dubey     December 4, 2020

Facebook has said that it will start removing misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines from its platform. The social media giant will now remove any pictures or posts about coronavirus vaccines that have been refuted by public health experts on both Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook, in a blog, said, "Given the recent news that COVID-19 vaccines will soon be rolling out around the world, over the coming weeks we will start removing false claims about these vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts on Facebook and Instagram."

Facebook's move comes after a series of measures taken by the tech firm to remove problematic content that it had previously been hesitant to take down. Additionally, the company's stance to delete false claims came after major pharmaceutical firms like Pfizer and AstraZeneca filed for emergency use authorisations for their COVID-19 vaccines and after the UK became the first country to approve one of the frontrunners.

"This could include false claims about the safety, efficacy, ingredients or side effects of the vaccines. For example, we will remove false claims that COVID-19 vaccines contain microchips, or anything else that isn't on the official vaccine ingredient list," Facebook added.

Facebook has been following the policy to remove false claims about coronavirus that could lead to "imminent physical harm," such as posts promoting false cures and fake conspiracy theories linking the virus to 5G. The company, as a result of this policy, removed 12 million posts between March and October. The company, so far, had only removed posts containing misinformation about vaccines in Pakistan and Samoa.

The social media platform added, "We will also remove conspiracy theories about COVID-19 vaccines that we know today are false: like specific populations are being used without their consent to test the vaccine's safety."

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, On Monday, said the social media giant would show its users "authoritative information about the vaccines," without explaining how it plans to distribute this information.

Tackling misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines would prove difficult for social media platforms as governments globally look to start immunising people against the disease.

Even Google's video-sharing service YouTube and Chinese social media app TikTok have said that they will remove false claims about such vaccines. Twitter, however, says it's still working through its plans.

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