Meta has relaxed its COVID-19 misinformation rules in several countries. While the rules will remain unchanged for countries where the infection is still deemed to be a major threat, it will be a different ball game in others where things have got back to being normal.
Last July, Meta got the nod from its Oversight Board that it should stick to its main rule of removing misinformation about COVID-19 from Facebook and Instagram “likely to directly contribute to the risk of imminent and significant physical harm.” The board, however, advised Meta to “reassess” the type of pandemic claim that it removes under its policy.
“We will take a more tailored approach to our COVID-19 misinformation rules consistent with the Board’s guidance and our existing policies. In countries that have a COVID-19 public health emergency declaration, we will continue to remove content for violating our COVID-19 misinformation policies given the risk of imminent physical harm,” Meta wrote in an updated blog post. “We are consulting with health experts to understand which claims and categories of misinformation could continue to pose this risk. Our COVID-19 misinformation rules will no longer be in effect globally as the global public health emergency declaration that triggered those rules has been lifted.”
In 2021 and shortly after FDA’s approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children age five to eleven, Facebook promised to remove false vaccine use on children. The social media giant was at the forefront of the war against false claims about vaccines. Kids were not in the picture at the start of the fight against COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, but this of course will change following the FDA approval. The approval, though an emergency one, will most likely increase misinformation about the vaccine.
The expansion especially focused on removing false claims that the vaccine can kill or cause serious harm to kids, and that they are not effective for children. It also includes removing misinformation that any other thing than a COVID-29 vaccine can work better at protecting children against the virus.
The social media giant says its fight against vaccine misinformation is part of its ongoing effort in partnership with the CDC, WHO and other health authorities. It promises to keep updating its policies and ban any new claim about the vaccine for children that will emerge in the future.