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World

Facebook, Twitter, Google form alliance to stop COVID vaccine misinformation

Vaccine misinformation has been rife on social sites with many questioning their efficacy. At the same time, countries are preparing to roll out COVID-19 vaccines in a bid to end the pandemic.
Published November 20, 2020

Three of the largest social networks – Facebook, Twitter, and Google – have formed an alliance to tackle misinformation about the coronavirus vaccine from spreading online.

Vaccine misinformation has been rife on social sites with many questioning their efficacy. At the same time, countries are preparing to roll out COVID-19 vaccines in a bid to end the pandemic.

It is unclear how the initiative will improve the fight against fake news.

British fact checking charity Full Fact will coordinate the effort. The site is based in India, Argentina, and Spain will convene alongside the tech companies and federal representatives from the UK and Canada.

With funding from Facebook, an initial framework will launch in January, setting out new standards for tackling misinformation.

This latest initiative to try to agree a common approach to coronavirus and vaccine misinformation may not convince critics of the social media giants that they are doing enough.

As per the Full Fact, "initial framework" should have been agreed, countries should be starting to roll out vaccines to populations which have been subjected for months to a flood of scare stories about them.

“They will have seen stories ranging from suggestions that the vaccines have serious side-effects or haven't been properly tested to allegations that they are part of a plot involving Bill Gates to implant microchips in people and track them.”

The other challenge for this initiative will be getting social media giants with very different approaches to misinformation to agree a common set of rules.

Facebook said it welcomed the effort "to discuss and develop new strategies" for tackling misinformation.

Moderna and Pfizer recently said their experimental vaccines were 94.5% and 95% effective against COVID-19, respectively, in preliminary analysis of late-stage testing. The two are expected to ask the Food and Drug Administration for authorization on emergency use this week.

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