Meta to continue removing misinformation about COVID 19

Meta to continue removing misinformation about COVID 19

Meta should continue to remove misinformation about COVID 19. As long as the World Health Organization (WHO) continues to declare COVID19 an international public health emergency, Meta should maintain its current policy. That means it should continue to remove COVID-19 misinformation that is likely to directly contribute to the risk of imminent and significant physical harm, the Meta Oversight Board says in a statement.

The background is that Meta had asked the Board whether it should continue to remove certain categories of COVID-19 misinformation or have a less restrictive approach.

The Board says Meta should continue removing misinformation but also begin a process to reassess each of the 80 claims it currently removes, engaging a broader set of stakeholders. It should also prepare measures for when the WHO declaration is lifted, to protect freedom of expression and other human rights in these new circumstances. 

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When the pandemic started in 2020,  Meta began removing several claims from Facebook and Instagram that the company identified as misinformation for example, denying the existence of COVID-19 and asserting that COVID-19 vaccines cause magnetism. 

Meta removed 27 million pieces of COVID-19 misinformation from Facebook and Instagram between March 2020 and July 2022, 1.3 million of which were restored through appeal. 

The Board finds that continuing to remove COVID-19 misinformation that is “likely to directly contribute to the risk of imminent physical harm” during a global public health emergency is consistent with Meta’s values and human rights responsibilities. 

The Board initially explored whether it would be preferable for Meta to take a localized approach to COVID-19 misinformation at scale. However, Meta insisted that this was not feasible without significantly undermining clarity and fairness for users and significantly increasing errors in enforcing its policy.

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