According to the latest news, The Washington Post reported that Facebook’s research of “vaccine-hesitant” beliefs has found a small group of users responsible for driving many of the discussions that discourage taking a vaccine.
World Health Organization reports, vaccine hesitancy predates both social media and COVID-19 as it can derail the progress in eradicating vaccine preventable diseases. WHO said vaccine hesitancy might not be wholly responsible for a 30 percent increase in measles cases around the world over the past several years but it has obviously played a significant role in the resurgence of measles.
Last October, just a few weeks before the first coronavirus vaccine was available, Facebook banned false and misleading ads about vaccines. Last December, Facebook officially announced that it would remove false claims about COVID-19 vaccines and began notifying users if they had interacted with a Facebook post that has false information about COVID-19 vaccines. After that, Facebook has also taken steps to promote authoritative information about COVID-19 vaccines.
Facebook’s study confirmed that there’s an echo chamber effect that helps spread misinformation on the platform. Content that creates this effect might not actually run afoul of any of Facebook’s rules.
Facebook researchers have found that there was a significant overlap between users connected to QAnon conspiracy theories which Facebook already banned from the platform and the user communities who expressed skepticism regarding vaccines.
In an email to The Verge, Facebook spokesperson Dani Lever said that Facebook has partnered with more than 60 global health experts, and has studied content related to the COVID-19 vaccine to inform its policies.
Dani Lever said, “Public health experts have made it clear that tackling vaccine hesitancy is a top priority in the COVID response, which is why we’ve launched a global campaign that has already connected 2 billion people to reliable information from health experts and remove false claims about COVID and vaccines. This ongoing work will help to inform our efforts.”