Facebook launching new tools to combat COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, help health agencies reach people

Coronavirus

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — 10 On Your Side has spent a lot of time trying to make sure you have the most accurate information on the COVID-19 vaccine.

But not everyone has the same intentions, especially on social media.

Facebook is launching what it’s calling the “largest worldwide campaign” to promote accurate information about the COVID-19 vaccine. The social network says it wants to do its part to help us make it through this pandemic.

There are four pieces to Facebook’s new campaign.

On your homepage, you’ll see a button for the COVID-19 Information Center. It has links to information from health agencies and data on your city.

The social network is also giving $120 million worth of advertising credits to health agencies around the world.

To make sure that information goes to the people who need it most, Facebook is partnering with Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh to conduct a survey.

“This is likely one of the largest surveys ever conducted in history,” said Facebook Research Manager Alex Pompe. “We get around 50,000 responses to that survey in the U.S. every day.”

You can see the results of the survey by clicking here.

You may have actually seen this survey already on the top of your Facebook page. Researchers are able to learn a lot, including the estimated rate of vaccine acceptance, broken down by state.

For example, they can see that the acceptance rate is 74% in Virginia Beach, but only 62% in Portsmouth. That data helps health agencies target their messages.

Pompe said, “We need to make sure that this information goes into all of the strategies that go into the information and public outreach campaigns that accompany the vaccine.”

Researchers can also see how different groups feel about the vaccines.

“Similar to how we saw the effects of mortality or economic impact have a huge disparity among racial groups and how the pandemic was affecting people’s lives, we’re seeing similar disparity around racial and ethnic lines in the rollout of the vaccine,” said Pompe.

Pompe says this kind of data collection is the good that can come from social media.

“It’s the reach, it’s the power of the social networks that people have created for themselves, that they use to connect with one another on our platforms,” Pompe said. “So leaning into that reach is really important and a survey is a quick way for people to share their voice and contribute to the overall scientific and informed response to the pandemic.”

Facebook is also enforcing stronger policies to deal with misinformation. That includes removing posts that are blatantly false or misleading, based on guidelines from the World Health Organization.

“Those conversations are very important to make sure that people are able to understand and learn about the vaccine, but at the same time, we can do a lot to prevent clearly false and debunked conspiracy and hoaxes from propagating on the platform,” said Pompe.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Senatara COVID-19 Infographic (Dec. 2020)

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