Facebook aims to help ’50 million people’ get COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus Updates

FILE – This March 29, 2018 file photo shows the Facebook logo on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York’s Times Square. With vaccination against COVID-19 in full swing, social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter say they’ve stepped up their fight against misinformation that aims to undermine trust in the vaccines. But problems abound. For years, the same platforms have allowed anti-vaccination propaganda to flourish, making it difficult to stamp out such sentiments now. And their efforts to weed out other types of COVID-19 misinformation – often with fact-checks, informational labels and other restrained measures, has been woefully slow. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

(ABC4) – Facebook is looking to help users get the COVID-19 vaccine.

An early Monday Facebook post from founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg says, “We’ve already connected over 2 billion people to authoritative COVID-19 information, and today as access to COVID-19 vaccines expands, we’re going even further and aiming to help bring 50 million people one step closer to getting vaccinated.”

To do this, Zuckerberg says the social media company says it will offer a tool to connect people with information about when and where they can get a COVID-19 vaccine through its apps – Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.

Other updates from the company include expanding their COVID-19 Information Center to Instagram, expanding official WhatsApp chatbots on COVID-19 to get people registered for vaccinations with the help of authorities, and adding labels to posts about COVID-19 vaccines to show additional information from the World Health Organization.

Zuckerberg says they will also make real-time aggregate trends in COVID-19 vaccinations, intent to get vaccinated, and reasons for hesitancy available to public officials to inform equitable vaccine rollout.

“By working closely with national and global health authorities and using our scale to reach people quickly, we’re doing our part to help people get credible information, get vaccinated, and come back together safely,” a Monday release from Facebook reads.

Facebook says it has partnered with Boston Children’s Hospital to offer a tool on its platform in the U.S. to help people identify places nearby to get the vaccine.

The tool, according to Facebook, provides locations from VaccineFinder and includes hours of operation, contact info, and links to make an appointment. You can find the tool in Facebook’s COVID-19 Information Center. Zuckerberg says the tool will be expanded to other countries as vaccines are available more widely.

The COVID-19 Information Center is also being brought to Instagram for users around the world.

In March 2020, Facebook launched the portal to help users discover the latest information about the virus from local health ministries and the World Health Organization.

Instagram users will also find new stickers on Instagram Stories to “inspire others to get vaccinated when it becomes available to them.”

The social media company says it has expanded its list of false claims they will remove during the pandemic to include additional debunked claims about the virus and the vaccines.

“Since launching our new policy applying both to old and new content, we have removed an additional 2 million pieces of content from Facebook and Instagram. The majority of this additional content was previously subject to warning screens, and is now removed from the platform,” Facebook says.

Posts on Facebook and Instagram that include misinformation will continue to be labeled with “credible information about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines from the World Health Organization.”

“For example, we’re adding a label on posts that discuss the safety of COVID-19 vaccines that notes COVID-19 vaccines go through tests for safety and effectiveness before they’re approved. This label is rolling out globally in English, Spanish, Indonesian, Portuguese, Arabic and French, and we are adding additional languages in the coming weeks,” Facebook explains.

“In the coming weeks, we’re rolling out labels on all posts generally about COVID-19 vaccines that point people to the COVID-19 Information Center globally, and plan to add additional targeted labels about COVID-19 vaccine subtopics,” Facebook continues. “We will also add an additional screen when someone goes to share a post on Facebook and Instagram with an informational COVID-19 vaccine label. It will provide more information so people have the context they need to make informed decisions about what to share.”

Facebook has also outlined the measures it is taking on its platforms to limit the spread of potentially harmful COVID-19 and vaccine information:

  • Reducing the distribution of 
    • content from users that have violated policies on COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation or that have repeatedly shared content debunked as False or Altered by our third-party fact-checking partners, and of 
    • any COVID-19 or vaccine content that fact-checking partners have rated as “Missing Context.”
  • Requiring admins for groups with admins or members who have violated our COVID-19 policies to temporarily approve all posts within their group.
  • Continuing to further elevate information from authoritative sources when people seek information about COVID-19 or vaccines.

Zuckerberg says Facebook will also bring new data and insights on vaccine attitudes to Facebook Data for Good’s COVID-19 map and dashboard.

“These visualizations are designed to provide information to inform and monitor vaccine rollouts in over 200 countries and territories. The dashboard is updated in near real-time with data collected by our partners at Carnegie Mellon University and University of Maryland as part of the COVID-19 Symptom Survey,” Facebook explains. “For example, globally, the top two reasons why respondents say they do not intend to get vaccinated are fear of side effects and waiting to see if vaccines are safe. Facebook does not host the surveys nor collect survey participant responses, and only has access to public, aggregated survey data provided by the universities. This data can help inform messaging tactics and policy decisions at a regional level.”

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