Facebook has initiated a policy to censor what it considers “vaccine misinformation”. Monika Bickert, VP of Global Policy Management posted about the new policy on the Facebook newsroom blog:
We are working to tackle vaccine misinformation on Facebook by reducing its distribution and providing people with authoritative information on the topic.
Leading global health organizations, such as the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have publicly identified verifiable vaccine hoaxes. If these vaccine hoaxes appear on Facebook, we will take action against them.
For example, if a group or Page admin posts this vaccine misinformation, we will exclude the entire group or Page from recommendations, reduce these groups and Pages’ distribution in News Feed and Search, and reject ads with this misinformation.
It’s unclear what these publicly-identified verifiable vaccine hoaxes are.
This action follows Rep. Adam Schiff’s letter to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg last week ominously warning him of vaccine misinformation.
Rep. Posey has since sent his own open letter to Zuckerberg highlighting, ironically, the misinformation in Schiff’s letter. Posey asked him:
If Facebook should decide to begin judging the medical accuracy of a statement posted by the public and by organizations, what will be the standards utilized? (For example, the letter written by U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff includes blatantly false information – would Facebook ban his letter from being posted?)
Facebook is a private company and can do whatever it likes, but if this is a result of Schiff’s bullying, that is a clear violation of the First Amendment.
Censorship in Action
A list of hashtags linked to feeds associated with those topics showed clear discrimination: