Facebook Says It Has Removed 20 Million Pieces Of Covid Misinformation—But Sees Signs Vaccine Hesitancy Is Declining

Under increased pressure to battle coronavirus-related misinformation, Facebook said Wednesday it is still taking down copious posts, pages and accounts circulating dubious claims about the virus and vaccines—but has noticed signs of an overall decline in vaccine hesitancy among users of its platform globally.

Though it didn’t offer up hard data on how frequently vaccine misinformation is being shared, Facebook detailed signs of declining vaccine hesitancy in its community standards enforcement report released Wednesday.

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The company cited a survey conducted in partnership with Carnegie-Mellon and the University of Maryland which it said found a positive change in attitude in many countries since the start of this year—including increases in vaccine acceptance by 35% in France, 25% in Indonesia and 20% in Nigeria.

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Vaccine hesitancy has also dropped by 50% in the U.S., Facebook said, though it did not directly back up this claim and did not immediately respond to a request from Forbes for more information.

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The report touted views of authoritative vaccine content as another sign of declining vaccine hesitancy, such as a quarter of Facebook users having “already seen someone use the UNICEF Covid-19 vaccine profile frames.”

CRUCIAL QUOTE

“We know from public health research that people are more likely to get vaccinated if they see others in their community doing so,” the report read. “In countries where vaccines are widely available to most people, we ramped up our efforts to show when friends and neighbors share their support for vaccines through profile frames and stickers.”

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CONTRA

While Facebook says it is noticing declining vaccine hesitancy online, other polling has signaled hesitancy to get the shot is persisting, particularly in the U.S. In fact, a Morning Consult poll from late July found the U.S. had the third-highest rate of vaccine skepticism among the world’s largest economies, with hesitancy declining far less than other nations in the months prior.

KEY BACKGROUND

The rosy review of Facebook’s handling of coronavirus misinformation follows a crackdown from the federal government on social media companies’ roles in the pandemic. In comments he later walked back, President Biden said in July that Facebook was “killing people” by allowing misinformation to spread on its platform. He later revised these comments to target 12 people he said were using the platform to spread wrongful claims about the virus. “Anyone listening to it is getting hurt by it,” Biden later said. “It’s killing people.” Facebook on Wednesday published a letter from its vice president of content policy saying there is no evidence to support the claim that a dozen people make up a vast majority of Covid-19 misinformation, but said it is taking action against “vaccine misinformation superspreaders.”

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BIG NUMBER

20 million. That’s how many pieces of coronavirus-related misinformation Facebook said have been removed from Facebook and Instagram globally, along with more than 3,000 accounts, pages and groups that repeatedly violated rules against spreading vaccine and virus misinformation.

 

CREDIABLE SOURCE

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