Facebook Ireland has launched a new campaign to educate its users on how to spot false vaccination news.
The social media giant has joined with the World Health Organisation and its European fact-checking partners.
The campaign, Together Against Covid-19 Misinformation, launches at an important juncture in the rollout of Ireland’s Covid-19 vaccination programme, which reached a milestone of half-a-million jabs at the end of February.
The campaign will roll out to newsfeeds in Ireland through a series of ads encouraging people to connect with accurate information from credible sources, such as the Health Service Executive (HSE).
Users will be asked to check the source and context of content in a bid to reduce misinformation.
The campaign has been launched to help people spot false news and stop sharing it.
Between March and October 2020, Facebook removed more than 12 million pieces of Covid-19 misinformation on Facebook and Instagram. It also displayed warnings on about 167 million pieces of Covid-19 content on Facebook, pointing to debunking articles written by fact-checking partners.
The HSE is experiencing significant increases in people accessing Covid-19 and vaccine information on its social channels.
Since December 30, the HSE has reached more than 9.2 million people on Facebook and had upwards of 573,000 engagements on posts about Covid-19 health messaging.
The HSE’s #OurHealthService Covid-19 vaccine stories featuring real people getting the vaccine have reached around one million people per post, while its Instagram posts have reached more than 669,000 people.
Paul Reid, chief executive of the HSE, said: “Social media is an essential platform for us to communicate and we’ve used it very successfully to communicate our key messages to the majority of the population.
“We welcome the work Facebook is undertaking to help users spot false news in relation to Covid-19 and vaccines.
“Public safety remains our top priority and we will continue to share factual, up-to-date information from trusted sources, which will in turn allow people to make informed and confident decisions about Covid-19 vaccines.”
Dualta O Broin, head of public policy at Facebook Ireland, said: “Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic we have been connecting people to accurate information and reducing misinformation on our platforms.
“We are removing harmful misinformation about vaccines and Covid-19.
“We also want to empower people to decide for themselves what to read, trust, and share.
“This campaign will encourage users to connect with accurate information around vaccines, and will highlight the broader steps we are taking against misinformation on Facebook.”