Ever since the outbreak of the coronavirus vaccine, there has been misinformation related to the highly infectious disease. The misinformation became widespread as soon as the rollout of vaccines started. Facebook has been taking several steps to curb misinformation on the social media platform. With the Food and Drug Administration officially giving a green signal for Covid-19 vaccines for kids between the ages of five and 11, Facebook has announced that it will roll out stricter policies to curb the spread of misinformation related to vaccines for children. The social media giant has taken several steps to put restrictions on Covid-19 related misinformation. But it had no policy that was specifically related to kids. Meta, the brand new identity of Facebook, in a blog post said that it decided to partner with the World Health Organisation and Centers for Disease Control and Preventions to tackle any misinformation related to the Covid-19 vaccine of children. The company will take strict measures to stop the spreading of misinformation on its platform. There move comes as there were several posts that claimed that there are other Covid-19 treatments available for kids. Facebook has made it clear that all such posts will be removed instantly.
Meta said that it will keep an eye on misinformation being shared on the platform. It will include everything related to Covid-19. From claims about it, efficacy to misinformation like vaccines can seriously harm or even kill children. This will include posts that claim that Covid-19 vaccines are unsafe, untested, or ineffective for children. Additionally, it will provide in-feed reminders about locations where citizens can find vaccines for children. These feeds will be available in English and Spanish languages. According to Facebook, it has removed more than 20 million feeds containing misinformation related to Covid-19 and vaccine misinformation from both Instagram as well as Facebook since the beginning of the pandemic. The company also said that it has taken down around 3,000 pages, accounts, and groups from its platform. However, these claims are totally opposite of what was clear from the leaked internal documents from Facebook. The leaked documents, also known as Facebook Papers, showed that how unprepared the social media giant was when it comes to tackling misinformation related to coronavirus and vaccines. Had it been prepared to fight misinformation related to the pandemic, it might have rolled out campaigns much earlier. This could have helped Meta in filtering more misinformation related to Covid-19 and vaccines for both adults and children.
Meta’s head of health, Kang-Xing Jin said that the partnership with WHO and CDC is part of an ongoing effort. “We have partnered with health authorities as part of an ongoing effort. So it is not about a single update on Facebook. The company will continue to update and clarify its policies. We all also keep on adding new claims related to coronavirus vaccine for children that will be removed from our platforms,” Jin said. Meta has time and again faced the heat for not being able to control the spread of misinformation on its platforms. The problem became more obvious with the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Under pressure, Facebook decided to implement a wide range of strict policies to reduce the number of such content. However, there are several who believe that the response by Facebook is too little too late. This is because the hashtag #VaccinesKill was functional as recently as July. It was only in July when Facebook blocked it. US President Joe Biden has accused the company of ‘killing people’ by not being able to check false vaccine claims on its platform. It is pertinent to mention that FDA has given authorization to the mRNA vaccine of Pfizer-BioNTech. The vaccine has been proved to be 90.7 percent effective in controlling coronavirus in children of age group five to 11 years. The child version of the vaccine comes in smaller doses when compared to that with adults. It will be offered as a two-dose shot with the second being administered at a gap of three weeks. No side effects or adverse events were reported during the trials.