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Facebook says it will begin removing coronavirus vaccine misinformation

Facebook says it will begin removing coronavirus vaccine misinformation
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Facebook announced Thursday that it will begin removing misinformation about coronavirus vaccines as the immunizations are poised to be rolled out globally.

Posts containing false claims about “safety, efficacy, ingredients or side effects” about the vaccines can be taken down, the social media giant said in a blog post.

“For example, we will remove false claims that COVID-19 vaccines contain microchips, or anything else that isn’t on the official vaccine ingredient list,” it said.

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The policy change comes as vaccines from three companies — Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna — near approval by health authorities.

Facebook has already been removing more general coronavirus misinformation and the company in October also banned ads discouraging all kinds of vaccinations, although it allowed ads that advocate against government policies around vaccinations to stay up. 

Despite these efforts, Facebook has been a fertile breeding ground for all kinds of vaccination misinformation.

Those falsehoods appear to have spilled into the real world, with research finding that online anti-vaccination communities have contributed to widespread hesitancy to take a coronavirus vaccine.

It is unclear why Facebook had not already been aggressively taking down vaccine misinformation generated by users. 

Rejection of the coronavirus vaccine based on online misinformation could be especially dangerous given that many experts believe roughly 60 percent of the population would need to get vaccinated to stop the virus’s spread.