Meta may ease COVID-19 policies on misinformation

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Meta Platforms Inc., the parent company of Facebook, says it is considering reviewing its policies on COVID-19 misinformation.

In addition, it said that it is proposing a shift from removing false claims to simply labeling or demoting them on its social media platform.

Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs disclosed this in a blog post.

“We’re asking the Oversight Board whether our current COVID-19 misinformation policy is still appropriate. Under this policy, we began removing false claims about masks, social distancing, vaccines and more.

READ: Study exposes gaps in Meta’s policies against COVID-19 misinformation

“Meta remains committed to combating COVID-19 misinformation and providing people with reliable information,” part of the statement read.

“As the pandemic has evolved, the time is right for us to seek input from the Oversight Board about our measures to address COVID-19 misinformation, including whether those introduced in the early days of an extraordinary global crisis remain the right approach for the months and years ahead,” Clegg said.

Meta’s current policies explicitly ban a wide array of false contents about Covid-19, such as that the illness can be transmitted by 5G wireless technology or that Covid-19 tests can infect you with the virus. 

Clegg said the company has listed as many as 80 distinct types of false claims that are subject to removal from its platforms and has removed more than 25 million pieces of violative content.

He explained that Meta’s original decision to begin removing those claims was an unprecedented step brought on by the global health emergency.

ALSO READ: Meta oversight board member urges actions against fake news on WhatsApp

“The change meant that, for the first time, the policy would provide for the removal of entire categories of false claims on a worldwide scale,” he wrote.

Clegg described the company’s decision, and its request for an Oversight Board opinion, as an effort to resolve “inherent tensions between free expression and safety.”

Nurudeen Akewushola is a fact-checker with FactCheckHub. He has authored several fact checks which have contributed to the fight against information disorder. You can reach him via [email protected] and @NurudeenAkewus1 via Twitter.

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