Facebook’s Oversight Board has demanded that the social media platform ramps up censorship in an effort to crack down on so-called “misinformation” about Covid.
The Board is an independent body that reviews the social media platform’s content moderation efforts.
On Thursday, the Oversight Board published a report recommending continued censorship of “COVID-19 misinformation.”
Facebook’s parent company Meta insists on having one worldwide approach to COVID-19 misinformation.
This approach led the Board to decide that Meta should continue its present policy as long as the World Health Organization (WHO) classifies the virus as an international public health emergency, according to the report.
Therefore, they advised that the company should persist in censoring COVID-19 information deemed false by Facebook’s “fact-checkers.”
The Board argues that such “misinformation” is “likely to directly contribute to the risk of imminent and significant physical harm.”
Meta currently restricts 80 different COVID-19 claims on its platforms, which include Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, according to the report.
Stating that the virus does not exist or claiming that its vaccines cause death or a broad range of severe side effects is prohibited on Facebook.
The social media giant removed 27 million examples of banned Covid wrongthink from Facebook and Instagram between March 2020 and July 2022.
Meta also censors heavily disputed claims and facts that have been proven true.
Claims that properly wearing a mask does not assist in stopping Covid contagion or that COVID-19 vaccines are experimental are known facts that are banned on Meta platforms.
The Board recommends that Facebook begins a process of conducting regular and transparent evaluations of these 80 claims with a wide variety of stakeholders, sharing the results with the public.
In addition to removal, Meta may “fact-check,” label, or demote “COVID-19 misinformation,” according to the report.
“We thank the Oversight Board for its review and recommendations in this case,” a Meta spokesperson said in a statement.
“As Covid-19 evolves, we will continue consulting extensively with experts on the most effective ways to help people stay safe on our platforms.”
Meta will review the board’s recommendations and respond to each publicly within 60 days, according to the spokesperson.
This is the first time the Board has directly commented on Meta’s policies relating to pandemic information.
According to the Board’s bylaws, Meta is required to respond to the recommendations within 60 days.
The Board reviews Meta’s implementation of its recommendations in quarterly transparency reports.
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