Two years after Instagram blocked the “vaccines kill” hashtag, Facebook finally does the same

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Facebook has been one of the more outspoken social media platforms when it comes to battling misinformation and anti-vax rhetoric in particular, but a recent CNN report shows that the company is often slow to act and apply the same rules on all the platforms it owns.

To that end, CNN found that posts containing the “vaccines kill” hashtag were circulating on Facebook up until last week, while the same hashtag was blocked on Instagram two years ago already.

Facebook has since blocked the posts featuring the hashtag, but this only came after the news organisation brought it to the company’s attention. Now these posts are not clearly visible and feature the phrasing, “keeping our community safe”.

It seems odd, especially as the hashtag was suppose to be blocked across all of Facebook’s platforms in 2019, when “vaccines kill” was used following a measles outbreak in New York City.

Naturally, with vaccine rollouts happening across the globe, the fact that the hashtag has been able to go unchecked until now is a little concerning.

As such, it seems like Facebook is ill equipped to police its own site and enforce the very rules and policies it has drawn up.

As Engadget points out, with the delta variant of COVID-19 now ravaging parts of the globe, it is more important than ever that accurate information regarding vaccines is posted and shared online.

Last week US President Joe Biden slammed social media platforms over their inaction over misinformation, which he said was “killing people”. Facebook pushed back on the criticism, but this latest episode paints a different picture.

“We will not be distracted by accusations which aren’t supported by the facts. The fact is that more than 2 billion people have viewed authoritative information about COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook, which is more than any other place on the internet. More than 3.3 million Americans have also used our vaccine finder tool to find out where and how to get a vaccine. The facts show that Facebook is helping save lives. Period,” a spokesperson noted last week following the criticism from Biden.

Following this recent CNN discovery, another spokesperson for the big tech giant said, “The #vaccineskill hashtag on Facebook violates our policies against misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines and we’ve blocked it from search.”

While we hope the company takes vaccine misinformation seriously, the way it has handled things up until now gives little cause for optimism.

[Source – CNN]
[Image – Photo by Mat Napo on Unsplash]

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Editor of Hypertext. Covers smartphones, IoT, 5G, cloud computing and a few things in between. Also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games when not taking the hatchet to stories.

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