Kang-Xing Jin, Head of Health at Facebook, has published an article outlining the company’s plan to help spread accurate and up-to-date information about Covid-19. This includes a commitment of US$120m in ad-credits to allow health ministries, NGOs and UN agencies to publish messaging on the site. The global campaign will have a strong emphasis on promoting factual information about vaccines.
Writing on the company’s corporate website earlier this week, Kang-Xing Jin said, “Building trust and confidence in these vaccines is critical, so we’re launching the largest worldwide campaign to help public health organisations share accurate information about Covid-19 vaccines and encourage people to get vaccinated as vaccines become available to them,” and said that the campaign would focus on:
- Helping people find where and when they can get vaccinated — similar to how we helped people find information about how to vote during elections
- Giving $120 million in ad-credits to help health ministries, NGOs and UN agencies reach billions of people around the world with Covid-19 vaccine and preventive health information
- Expanding our efforts to remove false claims on Facebook and Instagram about Covid-19 and vaccines
- Providing data to inform effective vaccine delivery and educational efforts to build trust in Covid-19 vaccines
It’s a notable effort by Facebook to leverage its vast network of 2.7 billion users in the fight against fake news, and in particular against anti-vax misinformation. But as Jin himself states in his piece, “there’s still a long road ahead.”
Since Covid-19 was declared a public health emergency a year ago, the company has already embarked upon a number of attempts to quell the spread of anti-vax information. It says it has connected more than two billion people from 189 countries to reliable information through its Covid-19 information centre, and cites the removal of more than 12 million pieces of false information about the virus and its vaccines, across both Facebook and Instagram.
However, the latest announcement represents a clear recognition by Facebook that more needs to be done in the wider war against fake news across the company’s platforms. We looked last month at the impending round of media tech regulation that looks set to be introduced in the post-Trump world. Once again, Facebook is signalling that it is aware of its issues and is prepared to help tackle them. But of course going forward, it will take more than $120m is ad-credits to effectively combat the spread of fake news that has been unleashed by the social media revolution in recent years.