Facebook will begin slapping labels on all posts about coronavirus vaccines that point users to “authoritative information” as the mammoth social media company works to respond to criticism that it has allowed vaccine misinformation to proliferate in its platform.
The company said Monday in a blog post that it has already started adding labels to posts that discuss the safety of coronavirus vaccines. The labels direct users to Facebook’s Covid-19 Information Center, which includes “credible information” from the World Health Organization and will appear on Facebook-owned Instagram as well.
Over the next few weeks, Facebook said it plans to add labels on all posts generally about coronavirus vaccines that will point users around the world to its COVID-19 Information Center. More targeted labels about coronavirus vaccine subtopics will be added to other posts.
Additionally, a screen will pop up when someone tries to share a post about coronavirus vaccines on Facebook and Instagram that will “provide more information so people have the context they need to make informed decisions about what to share.”
The company will also take several “temporary measures” aimed at cracking down on “potentially harmful” coronavirus and vaccine misinformation, including restricting the reach of content from users who have already violated Facebook’s policies on coronavirus misinformation or repeatedly shared content “debunked as False or Altered.” The restrictions will also be applied to coronavirus or vaccine content rated as “Missing Context” by Facebook’s third-party fact-checking partners.
Users who repeatedly violate Facebook’s policies will be removed from the platform, the company said.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also announced Monday that the company is launching a global campaign to help people get access to the coronavirus vaccine. The initiative includes debuting a tool that shows users when and where they can receive the vaccine and provides a link to make an appointment.
“The data shows the vaccines are safe and they work. They’re our best hope for getting past this virus and getting back to normal life. I’m looking forward to getting mine, and I hope you are too,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post on his Facebook page.
Facebook’s efforts come after the company was criticized by lawmakers and others for failing to do more to combat misinformation on the platform about the coronavirus vaccines.
However, the new policies are a shift from Facebook’s stance last fall, when the company said it would not target posts talking about the coronavirus vaccine the same way it cracked down misinformation about the coronavirus in general.
“If someone is pointing out a case where a vaccine caused harm or that they’re worried about it — you know, that’s a difficult thing to say from my perspective that you shouldn’t be allowed to express at all,” Zuckerberg told “Axios on HBO” in September.
Zuckerberg also warned at the time that if people are “overgeneralizing things” and “spreading misinformation” in a way that could lead to “imminent harm,” the company could “try to take action against those.”