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Coronavirus

Facebook comes hard on anti-vaccine accounts

Facebook has decided to crack down on accounts spreading anti-vaccine messages.

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Facebook is determined to come hard on any account with contents that spread misinformation about COVID-19.

Such misinformation includes claims that the pandemic is man-made or manufactured; that it is safer to get the disease than to get the vaccine, or that the shots are toxic, dangerous, or cause autism or other harm.

According to a news report by Aljazeera, “Facebook announced it will also give $120m in free advertising to health departments and nongovernmental organisations that share accurate information about COVID-19 testing and vaccination.”

Facebook Inc. also reiterated its commitment to join in the fight against spreading misleading and misinformation about Covid-19 and vaccines amidst spikes of infection by its subscribers on all its social networks including removing such major groups, accounts and Instagram pages for repeatedly spreading misinformation.

What you should know

  • Facebook-owned Instagram will also make it harder to find accounts that discourage vaccination, and remove them if they continuously violate the rules.
  • The company this week will also include in its Covid-19 information centre details from local health departments about when and where people can get vaccinated.
  • According to the report, “Claims about Covid-19 or vaccines that do not violate these policies will still be eligible for review by our third-party fact-checkers, and if they are rated false, they will be labelled and demoted
  • The company is acting on advice from the World Health Organization and other groups to expand its list of false claims that are harmful
  • The changes on the sites, which start this week, will roll out globally in more than 50 languages, but may take a while to be effective
  • The Menlo Park, California-based company will be giving out the sum of $120 million in free advertising to health departments and non-governmental organizations that plan to spread accurate information about Covid-19 testing and vaccination.

Why this matters

  • It is becoming a serious concern at the rate at which misinformation about the pandemic and the related vaccines are spreading like wildfire on social media.
  • No doubt, the apathy expressed is putting several lives at risk, prompting some with symptoms to resort to self-help/unproven remedies in the hope of ‘curing’ themselves.
  • There seems to be barely an area left untouched by disinformation in relation to the COVID-19 crisis, ranging from the origin of the coronavirus, through to unproven prevention and ‘cures’, and encompassing responses by governments, companies, celebrities and others.
  • In a time of high fears, uncertainties and unknowns, there is fertile ground for fabrications to flourish and grow. The big risk is that any single falsehood that gains traction can negate the significance of a body of true facts.
  • When disinformation is repeated and amplified, including by influential people, the grave danger is that information which is based on truth, ends up having only marginal impact.

Johnson is a risk management professional and banker with unbridled passion for research and writing. He graduated top of the class with B.sc Statistics from the University of Nigeria and an MBA degree with specialization in Finance from Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma, with fellowships from the Association of Enterprise Risk management Professionals(FERP) and Institute of Credit and Collections management of Nigeria (FICCM). He is currently pursuing his PhD in Risk management in one of the top-rated universities in the UK.

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