As Facebook unveils a new flu vaccine information campaign, it will begin explicitly banning ads to keep people from getting vaccinated, the world’s largest social media company said Tuesday. In a blog post, the company said in its blog post that ads advocating or opposing laws or government policies related to vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine, will continue to be allowed. We will start implementing new global policies in the next few days.
With 2.7 billion active users per month, Facebook is under pressure from lawmakers and public health organizations to crack down on misinformation about its vaccine content and platform. The company said the COVID-19 vaccine was unavailable for some time, but the epidemic has emphasized the importance of preventive health behavior.
Facebook’s previous rules banned ads that contained misinformation in the vaccine or fraud identified by major health agencies, but allowed ads against the vaccine if it did not contain false claims. This summer, Facebook Public Policy Manager Jason Hershey told Reuters. The company believed that users should be able to express an individual’s anti-vaccine views, and that more aggressive censorship could drive people hesitating about the vaccine into a vaccine camp.
Facebook will also start giving U.S. users this week information about the flu vaccine and how to get it, said the company’s Jin Gang Singh health officer and Rob Leathern, head of product management for the blog post. Facebook added that it is working with public health partners such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF on a messaging campaign to increase vaccination rates.
Vaccine content and misinformation about the new COVID-19 vaccine flourished on social media platforms, including Facebook, during the coronavirus outbreak, researchers told Reuters earlier this year. In September, the company also announced it would stop recommending health-related Facebook groups, saying it is important for people to get health information from “trusted sources”.