Facebook announced Tuesday that it will ban advertisements that discourage people from getting vaccines, another tightening of the platform’s rules on a subject it had previously avoided.
Any ads that paint vaccines as unsafe, useless or harmful will no longer be allowed.
“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,” Facebook’s head of health initiatives, Kang-Xing Jin, said in a blog post. “We don’t want these ads on our platform.”
Facebook has previously slapped restrictions on vaccine-related hoaxes identified by global health organizations.
Tuesday's ban comes a day after Facebook promised to block content denying the Holocaust and a week after a new crackdown on the QAnon conspiracy.
The latest steps are a break from CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergFacebook draws lawmaker scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens How social media fuels U.S. political polarization — what to do about it Democrats, unions pour cash into California recall fight MORE’s largely hands-off approach to content moderation. He had defended Holocaust denial content as recently as two years ago.
As with those other tightenings, enforcing the new ban anti-vaccination ads will be crucial.
Tuesday’s policy update will not affect user-generated content about vaccines, including the private Facebook groups and Instagram pages that critics have said are some of the main contributors to the spread of conspiracy theories about vaccinations.
Facebook will still allow ads that advocate against government policies around vaccinations.
For example, an ad currently run by the page The Patriot League calling for users to sign a letter opposing mandatory COVID-19 vaccines can remain on the platform.