Facebook will soon add labels to all posts about coronavirus vaccines that points people to its Covid-19 Information Center, the company said in a blog post on Monday as part of its plans to promote vaccination efforts on its platforms, amidst continued criticism from health experts and lawmakers for allowing misinformation about vaccines to spread on its platform.
In a blog post, Facebook said it is already adding labels to posts that discuss the safety of the Covid vaccines, pointing people to credible information from the World Health Organization both on its main platform and Instagram.
In the coming weeks, labels will be added to all posts generally about Covid-19 vaccines and the company also plans to add additional targeted labels about other specific Covid-19 vaccine subtopics..
Users who share a post about Covid-19 vaccines on Facebook or Instagram will see an additional popup with an informational label which the company says will offer people “context they need to make informed decisions about what to share.”
Facebook has also rolled out its Covid-19 Information Center on Instagram for the first time on Monday, nearly a year after it appeared on the main platform.
The company also disclosed that it has implemented several temporary measures to limit the spread of vaccine misinformation including reducing distribution of content from users who have violated the platform’s policies on COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation.
In addition to tackling misinformation Facebook has promised to share real-time aggregate trends on Covid-19 vaccinations, intent to get vaccinated and reasons for hesitancy with public officials.
What To Watch For
Facebook is also working with health authorities and governments to expand their chatbots on the messaging service WhatsApp to enable it to allow registration for vaccinations.
Facebook also announced it is rolling out a tool in the U.S. that will help people identify nearby places where they can get a vaccine. The tool, which is part of Facebook’s Covid-19 Information Center will include details about hours of operation, contact info and links to make an appointment.
Announcing some of the new measures in a Facebook post, the company’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote: “The data shows the vaccines are safe and they work. They’re our best hope for getting past this virus and getting back to normal life. I’m looking forward to getting mine, and I hope you are too.”
Facebook and other social media platforms have been breeding grounds for misinformation about vaccinations and Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic last year. Facebook had previously taken a hands off approach to moderation of vaccine misinformation with the company even expressing reluctance about tackling anti-vaxxers on the platform. Last year in an interview with Axios on HBO, Zuckerberg said: “If someone is pointing out a case where a vaccine caused harm or that they’re worried about it — you know, that’s a difficult thing to say from my perspective that you shouldn’t be allowed to express at all.” However, in December last year the company decided to make a u-turn by promising to take down false claims about Covid-19 vaccines. In an update to its policy, the company said it will remove posts from Facebook and Instagram that make false claims about the safety, efficacy, ingredients or side effects of Covid-19 vaccines, along with conspiracy theories about them.