Facebook and YouTube are introducing new, strict rules over vaccines

News - Oct 16, 2020

Fake news has never spread faster, especially now during the pandemic, and so social networks have been forced to deal with inaccurate information. YouTube has announced that it is expanding its disinformation policy to remove false claims about a potential vaccination against Covid-19.

Claims that conflict with local health authorities, such as the NHS in the UK or the World Health Organization, will be removed. This includes claims that the vaccine will kill people or cause infertility, as well as that microchips will be implanted into people who get the vaccine.

According to polls, half of Fox News viewers believe that Bill Gates wants to use the coronavirus vaccine to implant microchips into Americans for global surveillance.

In London, protesters against lockdown and vaccination gathered in Trafalgar Square, claiming that the coronavirus is a hoax and that the government’s measures should be stopped.

YouTube is already removing certain misinformation about the coronavirus. This includes claims that the virus does not exist, content that discourages people from seeking medical help, or content that challenges local health advice. Content that “approaches” the violation of company guidelines makes clearly less than one percent of the content viewed in the United States.

However, the company has been showing less recommendations of this type of content since January 2019, according to the “Independent”.

YouTube is not the only technology giant struggling to remove misinformation about the coronavirus. Social networks have removed only two percent of reported posts that spread misinformation about vaccines, studies show. Facebook said it will ban ads on its platform that discourage vaccination, with the exception of ads that are about government vaccine policies. Twitter has also added new tags and warning messages to “provide additional context and information” to tweets with “controversial or misleading information” about the coronavirus. However, disinformation on Facebook is still worse than it was during the 2016 US presidential election and it has increased in 2020.

Facebook will start banning ads that discourage people from getting vaccinated, the social network said, and also announced that it will launch a new campaign to provide flu vaccine information.

The company, however, clarified that ads that advocate for or against legislation or government policies around vaccines, including a COVID-19 vaccine, will still be allowed.

Under the company’s rules, ads with inaccurate information about the vaccine were banned, but ads expressing opposition to the vaccines were allowed unless they contained false claims.

This summer, Facebook’s public policy official Jason Hirsch said that the company believes that users are allowed to express their personal opinion, and that more aggressive censorship could eventually push people who are “suspicious” of the vaccine into the group of those who strongly oppose vaccination.

Facebook will start with the new policy next week. The company is under great pressure from politicians and health authorities to ban any content that expresses opposition to vaccination at a time when more vaccines against Covid-19 are in development.


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