03:24 GMT27 October 2020
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    Anti-vaccination material has taken hold across social media amid the multilateral push for a coronavirus vaccine. These include the promotion of unverified claims of UN plans for depopulation and a plot by Bill Gates to install tracking devices in recipients.

    Facebook announced on Tuesday that it will be banning anti-vax ads while continuing to permit material opposing government policies that promote vaccines.

    “Now, if an ad explicitly discourages someone from getting a vaccine, we’ll reject it”, said the company’s head of health, Kang-Xing Jin, and its director of product management, Rob Leathern, in a blog post.

    The social media site said that it would remove ads “that discourage people from getting a vaccine”. It also announced the creation of a “new flu vaccine information campaign on Facebook” and that it would work alongside “global health partners on campaigns to increase immunisation rates”.

    Russian coronavirus vaccine Gam-COVID-Vac, trade-named Sputnik V
    © Sputnik / Georgy Zimarev
    Russian coronavirus vaccine Gam-COVID-Vac, trade-named Sputnik V

    The move follows widespread concern about the public health impact of the anti-vaxxer movement, as well as worries that social media is aiding in the promotion of their posts.

    Facebook said there would unlike be a publicly available Covid-19 vaccine for some time, but that the coronavirus outbreak increased the need for other health procedures such as flu jabs.

    The new ban comes after a new series of policy decisions were announced by the company in recent weeks to rid its social networks to remove misleading and false content such as Holocaust denialism - the ban of which was announced earlier this week.

    Last week, pages and groups pushing the unverified QAnon conspiracy theory were removed, as well as a temporary ban of political adverts following the US presidential election on 3 November.

    Last month, ads that attempted to delegitimise the results of the US election were also banned, and a policy introduced to halt the growth of groups providing users health advice.

    Conspiracy, Facebook, Bill Gates, anti-vaccination
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