Facebook will add labels to all posts about COVID-19 vaccines to show additional information from the World Health Organisation.
The move comes amid concerns that misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines may be driving hesitancy in people receiving the jab, potentially putting themselves at risk and prolonging the coronavirus pandemic.
In an announcement on Monday, the social media giant said it was working closely with the NHS and global health authorities “to deliver important public health messages quickly, helping people access credible information and get vaccinated.”
The company is also launching a COVID-19 Information Centre on Instagram, which was previously only available on the Facebook app. In the UK it will provide users with information about vaccine eligibility and facts about the rollout in their area.
“In the coming weeks, we’re rolling out labels on all posts generally about COVID-19 vaccines that point people to the COVID-19 Information Centre, and plan to add additional targeted labels about COVID-19 vaccine subtopics,” Facebook said.
It follows the company launching a media literacy campaign to tackle the spread of false information about the coronavirus vaccine.
Vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi last month told Sky News the government was battling a “tsunami of disinformation” around the jabs as well as the coronavirus pandemic itself.
Facebook previously announced it would be banning proven false claims about vaccines, but warned it would “not be able to start enforcing these policies overnight”.
It comes as the UK has administered more than 24 million first doses of vaccine, although authorities are concerned that misinformation is preventing some people from accepting the jab.
Last May, the chair of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee, Julian Knight, claimed there were “record levels of misinformation and disinformation online about COVID-19, some of it deadly”.
Sky News recently reported that anti-vaccination books were being sold on Amazon and the websites of Waterstones and Foyles – amid calls for warnings on items to combat the spread of misinformation.
Mr Zahawi has told Sky News: “We’re translating everything into 20 languages, from Arabic, to Farsi, to Hindi, to Polish, across the board. We have to reach those hard-to-reach groups.
“Although vaccine positivity in the UK – adults saying they will take the vaccine – is at 89%, the 11% that are vaccine hesitant or have questions skew heavily towards some of the ethnic communities – the black and Afro-Caribbean communities, the Indian and Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities.”
Mr Zahawi has previously spoken of his concerns surrounding the low uptake of jabs among BAME communities.
He told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday earlier this month: “If one particular community remains unvaccinated, then the virus will seek them out and it will go through that community like wildfire and that’s not something any of us wish to see.”
(c) Sky News 2021: COVID-19: Facebook to label all posts about vaccines with WHO information