Facebook says it will start removing false claims about Covid-19 vaccines to prevent “imminent physical harm”.
The company says it is accelerating its plans to ban misleading and false information on its Facebook and Instagram platforms following the announcement of the first vaccine being approved for use in the United Kingdom.
Among already-debunked claims that won’t be allowed are falsehoods about vaccine ingredients, safety, effectiveness and side-effects.
Also banned will be the long-running false conspiracy theory that coronavirus vaccines will contain a microchip to control or monitor patients.
Covid-19: Facebook to take down false vaccine claims https://t.co/hwFnVUn8Hz— BBC News Technology (@BBCTech) December 3, 2020
Facebook has come under fire for what’s been seen as a patchy approach to fake news and false claims, and misleading content about the pandemic is still widely available on its platforms.
It says it will remove false claims about Covid-19 vaccines “that have already been debunked by public health experts”.
Facebook says that since January it has been removing content about the pandemic, such as false cures and treatments or claims that the disease doesn’t exist at all.
In October, it banned advertisements that discouraged people from taking vaccines.
This is a continuation of the policy “to remove misinformation about the virus that could lead to imminent physical harm”, the company said.
“This could include false claims about the safety, efficacy, ingredients or side effects of the vaccines [and] false claims that Covid-19 vaccines contain microchips, or anything else that isn’t on the official vaccine ingredient list.
“We will also remove conspiracy theories about Covid-19 vaccines that we know today are false.”
However, Facebook warned that these policies, which the BBC understands have been brought forward following the approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine by the British medicines regulator, will take some time to come into effect.
“We will not be able to start enforcing these policies overnight,” a Facebook statement said.
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