Facebook outlines plans to assist in global COVID-19 vaccine rollout

A worldwide campaign has been launched to tackle vaccine misinformation and to improve outreach programs.

Facebook intends to expand a worldwide campaign to fight against COVID-19 misinformation while vaccination programs roll out.

On Monday, Facebook's Health chief Kang-Xing Jin said in a blog post that the tech giant is "expanding its efforts to remove false claims on Facebook and Instagram about COVID-19 and vaccines," and will now also provide free advertising to healthcare organizations to push back against vaccine misinformation. 

Rather than just focus on false information related to COVID-19, Facebook is now opening up its moderation to fake information surrounding the vaccines for the respiratory illness, as well as "vaccines in general during the pandemic."

This means that we may begin to see the removal of anti-vax groups and pages. At the time of writing, a search for anti-vax content brings the pages of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to the top of results. 

"Today, following consultations with leading health organizations, including the WHO, we're expanding the list of false claims we will remove to include additional debunked claims about COVID-19 and vaccines," Jin said. 

In a survey recently conducted by the Carnegie Mellon University Delphi Research Group and the University of Maryland, over 50 million responses were received on the topics of mask-wearing and vaccinations. 

Willingness to receive a COVID-19 varies widely, with 90% of people in Denmark saying they would have one in comparison to 71% in Argentina -- but less than 60% of Black/African American citizens said they were willing. Facebook says that these results will be harnessed in targeting campaigns and measuring vaccine attitudes as the rollouts continue worldwide. 

The company is now also working with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and AARP in the United States to improve outreach to communities where vaccine takeup may be low.

In addition, the social media giant says that as vaccine hubs are set up and capacity becomes available, Facebook will integrate this data into existing map technologies. During the US election, Facebook provided local maps for people to see where and when they could vote -- and a similar approach will be taken to vaccine distribution centers. 

While wiping out misinformation that can have a detrimental impact on health is important, providing data from official sources is, too -- as well as increasing the channels for people to access this information. 

To this end, Facebook is giving health ministries, non-profits, and UN agencies $120 million in advertising credits to more rapidly publish vaccine and healthcare advisories. 

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