Evaluating the Efficacy of Facebook's Vaccine Misinformation Content Removal Policies

February 4, 2022

Cornell University

Social media platforms have attempted to remove misinformation about vaccines because it obstructs efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic. The researchers examined whether Facebook's vaccine misinformation removal policies were effective. Posts and engagements in anti-vaccine pages were reduced to 29% and 23% of pre-policy levels, respectively, but recovered over the subsequent six months. Posts and engagements in pro-vaccine pages were also reduced -- to 68% and 30% of pre-policy levels, respectively. Low-credibility content became more prevalent in anti-vaccine pages and groups, and high-credibility content became less prevalent in pro-vaccine pages. Links between anti-vaccine pages and coordinated inauthentic behavior were also reduced. Our results suggest that Facebook's policies were only partially successful. Facebook's attempts at self-regulation appear to have been resource intensive, and ineffective in the long term.

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