The quest to fight the flu, and any effect of that on combating COVID-19, got a shot in the arm Tuesday.
Facebook established a global policy banning advertisements that directly discourage vaccines. It’s an active expansion of the social media platform’s previous stance against vaccine hoaxes and misinformation identified by health organizations.
“We don’t want these ads on our platform,” Facebook stated in a blog post authored by its head of health and director of product management.
The timing of banning any ad that “explicitly discourages someone from getting a vaccine” comes as flu season is underway and on the heels of several other policy moves. It will go into effect in the coming days.
Facebook, with 2.7 billion users, also has banned Holocaust denials and QAnon conspiracy theories while pledging to enforce a temporary ban on political ads following the Nov. 3 general election.
The site wants you to give a thumbs-up to pulling your sleeve up for a flu shot. Facebook is partnering with global health organizations to advocate for the vaccine and increase participation.
According to an analysis by The Guardian that sampled Facebook pages, engagement with anti-vaccination posts increased sharply this summer. Lawmakers and world health groups had been calling for Facebook to curtail the effort in a year when it is especially important to minimize the risk of flu and COVID-19.
“Vaccines have always been a global priority for UNICEF, and will be even more so as the world continues to battle COVID-19,” UNICEF senior adviser Diane Summers said on the Facebook blog post.
Now you know who calls the shots.