Removing Groups, Pages that spread vaccine misinformation: FB

Published: Sep 22, 2020, 6:30 pm IST

Sydney:  Facebook has said it is actively removing Groups and Pages that spread vaccine misinformation from recommendations or predictions when the users type into Search.

In its submission document to to the Australian Select Committee on Foreign Interference through Social Media, the social network said it is committed to working with policymakers and partners around the world to
meet the challenge to stop the spread of misinformation, including in Australia.

“We are connecting users with accurate information about vaccines. We are taking a range of steps to make anti-vaccination misinformation harder to find and to elevate authoritative information about vaccines,” it said in the document submitted on Monday.

“Since the very beginning of the crisis, we have been displaying on Facebook and Instagram prompts to direct users to official sources of information, including from the Australian government and the World Health Organization (WHO),” the company wrote.

“These have been seen by every Facebook and Instagram user in Australia multiple times, either in their feeds or when they search for coronavirus-related terms”.

The European Commission recently asked Facebook, Twitter, Google and other social media companies to report monthly on Covid-19 related disinformation on their platforms.

The European Union’s executive body asked these companies to provide monthly reports that include more detailed data on their actions to promote authoritative content, improve users’ awareness, and limit coronavirus disinformation and advertising related to it.

According to Facebook, it is rejecting ads and fundraisers that include anti-vaccination misinformation.

“For ad accounts that continue to violate our policies, we may take further action, such as disabling the ad account. We are inserting authoritative notices at the top of Groups and Pages that are discussing anti-vax misinformation, directing people to authoritative sources,” the social network informed.

It said that it is providing labelling and other signals to users about the trustworthiness of information.

These include: the context button, which provides information about the sources of articles in News Feed; the breaking news tag, to help people easily identify timely news or urgent stories and new labels for content from media outlets that are partly or fully under the control of their government.

“Combating misinformation is a highly challenging and adversarial space, so we still miss things and won’t catch everything — but we’re making progress,” Facebook said.

The company recently launched a dedicated section of the Covid-19 Information Center called “Facts about Covid-19”.

It debunks common myths that have been identified by WHO, such as drinking bleach can prevent coronavirus or taking hydroxychloroquine can prevent Covid-19.

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