Facebook on Thursday said that it will remove misinformation about the safety, efficacy, side-effects and ingredients of coronavirus vaccines, The Indian Express reported.
Alice Budisatrijo, who handles Facebook’s Misinformation Policy, told the newspaper that false claims about the vaccines containing harmful ingredients like aluminium violated the social media giant’s rules and would be removed from its platform.
Budisatrijo said the decision to remove misinformation was taken in view of several countries beginning the vaccination process. “We’re focused on claims that if somebody relies on the misinformation, it makes them more likely to get sick or not get the right treatment,” she was quoted as saying by The Indian Express. “And then we also prohibit false claims related to Covid vaccines, now that we know the Covid vaccines are starting to get approved and rolled out in many countries.”
She added: “So claims about the safety, efficacy, serious side-effects, ingredients and conspiracy theories about the vaccines, we remove them as well.”
The Facebook official said that there was a need to enhance the implementation of the policy related to misinformation about the coronavirus. Budisatrijo added that this would be challenging, considering that Facebook had over 2 billion (200 crore) followers. “Even with the combination of artificial intelligence and the human reviewers that we have all over the world, we can never 100% guarantee that content that violates our policies is not on the platform,” she said.
Facebook’s misinformation policy usually applies to unverified claims that “contribute to the risk of imminent violence or physical harm”. However, the company is evolving the policy according to changing online habits.
Facebook on censoring politicians
The Facebook official said that no politician was exempt from the social media giant’s policies on violence and incitement. Speaking about the ban on former United States President Donald Trump after the Capitol riots last month, she said the allegations against him were more serious than just spreading misinformation.
However, Budisatrijo said that Facebook should not be censoring posts by politicians unless they violate standards. “When it comes to fact-checking, we believe that content from politicians, people should be able to see, they should know when their politicians are saying, especially in democratic societies,” she told The Indian Express. “If we allow politicians to be fact-checked, we actually reduce the distribution of their content on the platform.”
Facebook became the centre of a controversy in India last year after the The Wall Street Journal reported that the company’s India’s Public Policy Director Ankhi Das opposed the idea of removing incendiary posts by BJP leaders, warning that this could hurt the company’s “commercial interests” in its biggest market, India.
Another report by the newspaper said that Facebook refrained from taking action against Hindutva group Bajrang Dal due to political and business considerations and concern for the safety of its employees.