Facebook to label all posts about COVID-19 vaccines

Facebook and Instagram will now label any posts that discuss Covid-19 vaccines and direct users to legitimate sources including the NHS and WHO

  • Mark Zuckerberg announced a range of new features to tackle misinformation 
  • These include the addition of labels to all posts relating to Covid vaccines 
  • People will be offered legitimate information on vaccines from these posts 
  • The ‘Covid-19 Information Centre’ has been expanded and is live on Instagram 

Facebook has today announced a slew of features to tackle misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines. 

Posts on both Facebook and Instagram relating to coronavirus vaccines will now be given a label stating the jabs are thoroughly tested for safety before being approved.

The alerts will be automatically attached to posts and, if clicked on, take users through to verified, legitimate sources of information, such as from the NHS or the World Health Organization.  

Warning notices are already applied to potentially misleading posts about the virus.

Facebook has also expanded its ‘Covid-19 Information Centre’ to Instagram which provides key information about the pandemic in the user’s local area. 

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The Covid-19 Information Centre on Instagram can be accessed by first logging onto the ap and going to your own profile. then select the menu in the top right corner which is three horizontal lines (left, label 1), then scroll to the bottom and open the ‘Covid-19 Information Centre’ (left, label 2)

Posts on both Facebook and Instagram relating to coronavirus vaccines will now be given a label stating jabs are thoroughly tested for safety before being approved

Facebook has also expanded its ‘Covid-19 Information Centre’ to Instagram which provides key information about the pandemic in the user’s local area

How to access Instagram’s Covid Information Centre 

The feature went live on Facebook in March 2020 and is now being integrated with its sister platform. 

This hub also provides easy access to facts from the World Health Organization relating to the development, safety and effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines.   

The social media company said in a blog post it is also launching a tool in the US to give people information about where to get COVID-19 vaccines. This will be housed within the Covid-19 Information Centre. 

False claims and conspiracies about the coronavirus vaccines have proliferated on social media platforms during the pandemic.

Facebook and Instagram decided to tighten their policies on misinformation, breaking with their long-standing tradition of employing a hands-off approach.  

There are many popular groups, pages and accounts on Facebook that promote false claims about the shots and can be easily found through keyword searches. 

The Netherlands has joined a growing list of EU nations to suspend the use of the AstraZeneca jab amid fears of blood clots – with Italy set to start a new lockdown and cases spiking in France.

The Dutch government said the vaccine was being suspended until March 29 as a precaution after Denmark and Norway raised fears of potentially serious side effects.

It comes despite reassurances from the WHO and AstraZeneca that the vaccine is safe, and findings by EU regulators that the occurrence of blood clots is no higher than in the general population.

The UK also came to AstraZeneca’s defence today with a member of the government’s vaccine committee saying that ‘the risks of not having the Covid vaccination far outweigh the risks from the vaccinations’.

But Dutch authorities have opted for caution on the eve of a snap election which will see voters deliver their verdict on the country’s coronavirus response in three days of balloting, weeks after a curfew prompted three nights of rioting in major cities.

The Netherlands is the fifth country to pause its roll-out, following Ireland, Denmark, Iceland and Norway, while others including Austria and Italy have black-listed a particular batch of the jab over fears of side-effects.

Announcing the new features, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said: ‘Now that many countries are moving towards vaccinations for all adults, we’re working on tools to make it easier for everyone to get vaccinated as well.

‘First, we’re launching a tool that shows you when and where you can get vaccinated, and gives you a link to make an appointment.

‘This will be in the Covid Information Center, which we’ll show people right in their News Feed. 

‘We’ve already seen people use Facebook to find vaccination appointments, so this should enable millions more people to do the same.

‘Second, we’re bringing the Covid Information Center to Instagram, and we’ll show it to people prominently there too.

‘Third, we’re working with health authorities and governments to expand their WhatsApp chatbots to help people register for vaccines. 

‘More than 3 billion messages related to Covid have already been sent by governments, nonprofits and international organizations to citizens through official WhatsApp chatbots, so this update will help with the vaccination effort as well.’

Facebook’s Chief Product Officer Chris Cox said in an interview that the company had taken viral false claims ‘very seriously’ but said there was ‘a huge gray area of people who have concerns…some of which some people would call misinformation and some of which other people would call doubt.’

‘The best thing to do in that huge gray area is just to show up with authoritative information in a helpful way, be a part of the conversation and do it with health experts,’ he added.

In a blog post, Facebook also said that since expanding its list of banned false claims about the coronavirus and vaccines in February, it has removed an additional 2 million pieces of content from Facebook and Instagram. 

Facebook said it had also implemented temporary measures including reducing the reach of posts from users who repeatedly share content marked as false by fact-checkers.

Facebook has also introduced a variety of new stickers for Instagram Stories which are designed to encourage people to get jabbed. 

Examples say ‘I’ll get my Covid vaccine. Thank you NHS’ and ‘I’ve had my Covid vaccine. Thank you NHS.’

Pictured, how some of the new stickers rolled out by Facebook will look like. The yare designed to be added to profiles and stories to encourage the widespread uptake of Covid vaccines 

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