Facebook, after two years of COVID-pandemic, finally blocks any content within the platform that uses the #VaccineKills. Certain issues between the government and the social media giant arise in the past weeks as disinformation about the vaccine also spread and the new Delta variant is putting more risks to everyone. And this action seems to be two years late as when it should be.
Social media serves as an avenue for connection and information all over the world. It becomes more prominent because of pandemic restrictions. Moreover, people spend more time with their phones making them more vulnerable. That is how important it is for users and tech companies to find ways to make the platform safe. However, it seems like this is not a priority for Facebook as this action was done only now.
People are constantly spreading false information through the use of various social media platforms. Among these include, #vaccinekills, #novaccine, #depopulation. This period shows that vaccination is critically necessary as the Biden administration consistently encourages everyone to be vaccinated. However, it is creating confusion and doubt due to this misinformation.
Now, all posts that normally appears under the #VaccinesKill hashtag will now be hidden to the “keeping our community safe” banner. As additional context, it alerts users that information included in such posts include content that goes against the platform’s Community Standards.
Why Only Now?
Since the beginning of the pandemic, anti-vaccine conspiracy theories have used Facebook to share their insights into the ongoing crisis. Unfortunately, Facebook perceived this as about free speech which then results in a more lenient approach to it. The tech giant was not able to see it as a dangerous spread of misinformation which bothers certain groups, specifically the Biden government.
Moreover, this disinformation controversy has stirred more as the government appeals to social media sites to be more critical from what they call the “disinformation dozen” or the group of “about 12 people who are producing 65% of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms,” according to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. Biden accused Facebook of “killing people” by allowing this false information to spread throughout the platform. Which was then retracted and explained that it is the fake news that kills people, not the companies.
What was confusing though, is that Facebook-owned Instagram was able to initiate on time actions about it. The platform also blocked the #VaccinesKill hashtag way back 2019 when it all started. And remains blocked as of today. Because of this, Facebook spokesperson explained to CNN why the action is only now?
Full statements of Facebook
Our process to determine whether a hashtag violates our policies takes several factors into account, including the percentage of content using the hashtag that violates. Now, the #vaccineskill hashtag on Facebook violates our policies against misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines and we’ve blocked it from search.Facebook
The spokesperson also added that Instagram reached a “substantial portion of content” that violates the company’s policies resulting in the blocking of the hashtag. But that was not the case for Facebook before. It said that this hashtag content “did not reach our threshold to block the hashtag”.
Amidst all the conflicts and controversy, it is also important that users like us be more careful in spreading information. Make sure that sources are always reliable and that the information is useful for anyone who will see it.