Anti-vaxxers must be steaming. In an effort to curb health misinformation amidst the coronavirus pandemic, Facebook has revealed it’ll start purging ads that discourage vaccines and immunization on its platform and Instagram.
As the Wall Street Journal notes, this is hardly the first time the Zuckerberg empire has promised to crack down on vaccine misinformation. Last year, the company made a similar pledge, but later acknowledged it had failed to remove paid ads from a prominent anti-vax group that suggested evil doctors are conspiring to hide evidence of alleged harm to children.
“Today, we’re launching a new global policy that prohibits ads discouraging people from getting vaccinated,” Facebook said in a statement. “Our goal is to help messages about the safety and efficacy of vaccines reach a broad group of people, while prohibiting ads with misinformation that could harm public health efforts.”
The move comes amidst increased criticism from health professionals bemoaning Facebook for undermining the importance of immunization by giving platform to anti-vax groups.
That said, the company will still allow ads that advocate for or against legislation concerning vaccines, including one for COVID-19.
“We regularly refine our approach around ads that are about social issues to capture debates and discussions around sensitive topics happening on Facebook,” the company added. “While we may narrow enforcement in some areas, we may expand it in others.”
The campaign presents Facebook’s latest efforts to discourage the spread of misinformation on its platform and give more exposure to trusted sources like the World Health Orgnaization (which has been guilty of disseminating some pretty bad advice, too) and UNICEF.
Facebook isn’t stopping at anti-vax content, though. Just last week, the company announced it’ll begin banning pro-QAnon accounts from its platform “even if they contain no violent content.” Unlike the anti-vax ban, though, the restriction applied solely to pages and accounts, rather than individual posts.
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