Facebook Says It Will Take Down Posts Linking Vaccines To Autism

Topline

Facebook said Monday it will remove all posts, not just ads, that claim that vaccines cause autism, the social media company’s most aggressive step yet to combat antivaxxer claims.

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of Covid-19 vaccine at a new vaccination site in the California … [+] Polytechnic State University in Pomona, California.

Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images

Key Facts

Facebook said it made the decision to crack down on antivaxxer content after consulting with the World Health Organization, and it will last “for the duration of the Covid public health emergency.”

The social network also announced Monday it will take down posts asserting Covid-19 is man-made, that “vaccines are not effective at preventing the disease they are meant to protect against” as well as posts that say it’s safer to get the disease than get a vaccine.

Previously Facebook only prohibited such content in paid advertisements and took down posts with false information about Covid-19 vaccines.

Crucial Quote

“The goal of this policy is to combat misinformation about vaccinations and diseases, which if believed could result in reduced vaccinations and harm public health and safety,” Facebook says in its official policy update.

Key Background

Facebook had previously chosen to fact-check and downrank posts and groups casting doubt on vaccines, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg telling Axios in September that Facebook will treat antivaxxer content less severely than Covid-19 misinformation. Still, Facebook has been criticized for allowing antivaxxer falsehoods to spread in private groups and posts from individual users, contributing to increased hesitancy to receive immunizations over the last few years, even before the pandemic.

What To Watch For

 Facebook said it will start enforcing the policy immediately against groups, pages and individual accounts that violate the new rules. Accounts and groups that repeatedly share debunked information will be booted off Facebook entirely, the company said.

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