Facebook said Tuesday it will bar ads that discourage people from getting vaccinated, a move that shows the company is cracking down on health misinformation amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“Our goal is to help messages about the safety and efficacy of vaccines reach a broad group of people, while prohibiting ads with misinformation that could harm public health efforts,” Facebook executives said in a blog post.
The company said that it will still allow ads that advocate for or against legislation or government policies about vaccines, including one for the respiratory illness COVID-19. Facebook already prohibits ads that contain vaccine hoaxes flagged by global health groups.
Health misinformation has been a concern on social networks before the coronavirus outbreak. Last year, users opposed to vaccines used Facebook to spread misinformation in groups where members have to be approved, making it tough for the social network to police this content, according to The Guardian. Misinformation about vaccines on social media may have contributed to an outbreak of measles in the US last year.
Misinformation about vaccines continues to be a concern as pharmaceutical companies conduct clinical trials of a coronavirus vaccine. Facebook said it’s also launching a new tool that directs users to information about how and where to get the flu vaccine. The company will also be reminding users to get their flu vaccine on their News Feed and in an online hub about COVID. Facebook said it’s starting this effort this week in the US and plans to expand it globally.
“Public health officials recommend that most people get a flu shot every year. This year, they think it is especially important to minimize the risk of concurrent flu and COVID-19,” Facebook said.
Meanwhile, Facebook said it’s teaming up with global health organizations on vaccine education campaigns.
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