Facebook just announced that it will remove any false claims about COVID-19 vaccinations and vaccinations in general. The new policy will include false information about how the Measles and Mumps vaccines given to children cause autism. This has long since been debunked. The new policy will also apply to Instagram which is owned by Facebook.
The ant-vaccination movement has been around for decades, ever since a study was released which claimed to show a connection between vaccinating children and the development of various developmental disorders. And this conspiracy theory continued to be proliferated even after the author of the study himself admitted to falsifying its data.
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The Anti-vaxxer movement as it came to be known now preaches against taking any kind of vaccination, including annual ones for the flu virus, even by adults. The expansion of myths that vaccines cause diseases instead of curing them has been able to spread in recent years due to the internet. Social media like Facebook and phony blogs have been used to disseminate falsehoods such as this.
Facebook, Twitter and other companies have been under a great deal of pressure to crack down on fake news since it was revealed that they did nothing to stop its spread on their platforms during the 2016 American presidential elections. Now the same thing is happening over the Coronavirus.
Guy Rosen, Facebook’s VP of Integrity, said in a blog post, “Today, following consultations with leading health organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), we are expanding the list of false claims we will remove to include additional debunked claims about the coronavirus and vaccines.”
In it general policy Facebook had already banned any posts which coordinate, depicts, admits to, or promotes the active and deliberate spread of communicable diseases by users or their associates.
The newly banned claims include stating that COVID-19 is man-made or manufactured, vaccines are not effective at preventing the disease which they are meant to protect against, that it’s safer to get the disease than to get the vaccine or that vaccines are toxic, dangerous or cause autism.
The company will also remove any content or groups who attempt to organize people against the dissemination of the Coronavirus vaccines as well as any call for people to refuse to be vaccinated.
“We will begin enforcing this policy immediately, with a particular focus on Pages, groups and accounts that violate these rules,” added Rosen. “We’ll continue to expand our enforcement over the coming weeks.”
Doctors, medical professionals and people everywhere will applaud the move as it will help to bring about n end to the threat from Covid-19 and the worldwide shutdowns. Countries like Israel have seen a huge drop in the rate of people getting inoculated which they credit to the spread of false claims being made about the dangers in taking the Covid vaccine.
But free speech activists will surely decry this move by Facebook. They have taken the position that it is not for social media companies to decide what is or is not the truth, or what private individuals should be allowed to say on their platforms as long as it is not slanderous in any way or calls on people to commit crimes. They accuse Facebook and others of censorship.