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Facebook to ban anti-vaccination ads

Darko Janjevic
October 13, 2020

Social media giant Facebook will be banning ads that discourage people from getting vaccinated, its representatives have said.  The company is also launching a campaign to help people get vaccinated against the flu.

Smartphone screen with Facebook icon
Image: picture-alliance/empics/Y. Mok

A new global policy would see Facebook prohibit anti-vaccination ads, with the company saying on Tuesday they "don't want these ads on our platform."

"We already don't allow ads with vaccine hoaxes that have been publicly identified by leading global health organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)," Facebook officials said in an online statement.

"Now, if an ad explicitly discourages someone from getting a vaccine, we'll reject it," they added, noting that Facebook would be starting to enforce this policy "over the next few days."

Read more: Germany's coronavirus skeptics and tactics from the Middle Ages

However, the network said it would still run campaign material advocating in favor or against government legislation that involve vaccines.

The latest changes in policy come as various conspiracy theories about the ongoing pandemic spread through social media, fueling anti-lockdown protests. In April, Facebook said they would use new tactics to push back, including letting users know if they liked, reacted or commented on a post with harmful misinformation about the coronavirus. It also said it would direct those users to information provided by the World Health Organization (WHO). Previously, the company launched a dedicated COVID-19 info center for people who wanted to get more reliable information about the pandemic.

Directing Facebook users to the flu vaccine

Additionally, the US-based social media giant will be launching its own campaign to help inform people on seasonal flu vaccines. With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, public health officials believe "it is especially important to minimize the risk of concurrent flu and COVID-19," the company said.

"To help, we’ll be directing people to general information about the flu vaccine and how to get it, including the nearest location to get the vaccine in the US," they added.

The campaign is set to start in the US this week and later be expanded to other countries.

Read more: Facebook bans QAnon conspiracy theory groups amid misinformation surge

Helping WHO and Unicef 

On top of encouraging people to get their flu immunizations and rejecting anti-vaccination ads, the company also it would be helping with a vaccine education campaign.

"This includes working with organizations including WHO and UNICEF on public health messaging campaigns to increase immunization rates," they said. "We're working with WHO’s Vaccine Safety Network to train and support their network of vaccine partners to utilize Facebook to reach as many people as possible with public health messaging."

The move comes just a day after Facebook founder and CEO said the platform would be banning Holocaust denial posts.