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Facebook to Remove 'Misinformation' and 'Conspiracy Theories' on COVID-19 Vaccines

© REUTERS / Johanna GeronThe Facebook logo is displayed on a mobile phone in this picture illustration taken December 2, 2019
The Facebook logo is displayed on a mobile phone in this picture illustration taken December 2, 2019 - Sputnik International
Facebook’s latest effort to combat COVID-19 vaccine "misinformation" comes days before an advisory committee of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is scheduled to meet and consider granting an emergency use authorization for Pfizer's vaccine candidate.

The social media conglomerate announced in a Thursday blog post that content containing what it believes to be false claims regarding COVID-19 vaccines will be removed from both Facebook and Instagram.  

"This could include false claims about the safety, efficacy, ingredients or side effects of the vaccines," the post read. "For example, we will remove false claims that COVID-19 vaccines contain microchips, or anything else that isn’t on the official vaccine ingredient list." 

Disproven "conspiracy theories" related to COVID-19 vaccines will also be removed from the two major social media platforms. 

Facebook highlighted that these new policies cannot simply be carried out overnight, as "it’s early and facts about COVID-19 vaccines will continue to evolve." Instead, the social media conglomerate will remove content "over the coming weeks" following "guidance from public health authorities as they learn more." 

Many netizens have expressed that the move has come a little late in the pandemic. 

Facebook previously announced in October that it would ban advertisements that explicitly discourage individuals from getting a COVID-19 vaccine.  

"Our goal is to help messages about the safety and efficacy of vaccines reach a broad group of people, while prohibiting ads with misinformation that could harm public health efforts," Facebook Head of Health Kang-Xing Jin and Director of Product Management Rob Leathern wrote at the time.

"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)." 

This increased focus on anti-vaccine ads and content comes as two companies - Pfizer and Moderna - await FDA approval for their COVID-19 drugs. 

Pfizer, whose vaccine produced with Germany's BioNTech was approved in the UK, will have its emergency authorization appeal considered by the FDA on December 10. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been found to be 95% effective against COVID-19-related respiratory illness. 

Moderna filed documents on Monday requesting emergency authorization for its vaccine, which boasts a 94.1% efficacy rate. 

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