News & Opinion | October 14, 2020 12:59 pm

Facebook Is Finally Banning Anti-Vaccination Ads

It's the company's latest move in a battle against misinformation on the platform

Facebook will no longer allow anti-vaccine ads.
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On Tuesday, Facebook announced a ban on ads promoting anti-vaccination, to which most people responded with something along the lines of, “Wait, did they not already do that years ago? Why not?”

The answer is because Facebook is Facebook, and it has taken years for the company to take any responsibility whatsoever in preventing the very real damage caused by the misinformation to which the platform has long played host.

Anyway, while Facebook already had a policy against vaccine hoaxes publicly identified as such by global health organizations, the new measure marks the platform’s first explicit ban on anti-vaxx content. “Now, if an ad explicitly discourages someone from getting a vaccine, we’ll reject it,” Facebook’s head of health, Kang-Xing Jin, and its director of product management, Rob Leathern, wrote in a blog post Tuesday.

“If an ad that advocates for/against legislation or government policies explicitly discourages a vaccine, it will be rejected,” a spokesperson told CNBC. “That includes portraying vaccines as useless, ineffective, unsafe or unhealthy, describing the diseases vaccines are created for as harmless, or the ingredients in vaccines as harmful or deadly.”

The anti-vaxx ban is the latest in a series of recent efforts on Facebook’s part to finally tackle the platform’s rampant misinformation problem. Earlier this week, the company announced a ban on Holocaust denialism, which followed a prohibition on pages and groups supporting the QAnon conspiracy theory announced last week.

However, various critics have noted that Facebook’s latest measures may be a bit too little, too late.

“This is one step in the correct direction but still there is much work to be done to correct the damage that has already been done,” said Kolina Koltai, a vaccine researcher at the Center for an Informed Public at the University of Washington.