Facebook ramps up effort to curb vaccine hoaxes

Facebook announced fresh moves to curb the spread of coronavirus misinformation in coordination with global health authorities
Facebook announced fresh moves to curb the spread of coronavirus misinformation in coordination with global health authorities Olivier DOULIERY AFP/File
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San Francisco (AFP)

Facebook on Monday said it is ramping up efforts to stem the spread of misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines, spread facts, and figure out who might be wary of getting the jab.

The move includes banning groups which repeatedly spread misinformation and debunked claims about the virus and vaccines.

The leading social network has been highlighting health advice from reliable agencies and removing Covid-19 misinformation for months and on Monday expanded that initiative.

A list of debunked claims about the virus of vaccines not welcomed at Facebook was updated with the help of the Worth Health Organization.

Groups or accounts that share such misinformation may be removed completely from the social network, Facebook warned. Debunked information about vaccines or the pandemic is already banned in ads at the social network.

People in charge of groups at the social network were told to require posts of members prone to spreading bogus information to be approved before being shared.

At Facebook-owned Instagram, accounts of people discouraging Covid-19 vaccinations will be harder to find using automated search tools, according to the social network.

Facebook said that it has gotten more than 50 million responses to a Covid-19 survey it launched last year in a collaboration with two US universities.

It was designed to gather insights from people about Covid-19 symptoms, mask wearing, and access to care.

"The survey program is one of the largest ever conducted and has helped health researchers better monitor and forecast the spread of Covid-19," Facebook said.

"The survey data will provide a better understanding of trends in vaccine intent across sociodemographics, race, geography and more."

Survey findings about vaccine attitudes will be shared globally, according to the social network.