Facebook has removed a popular, rapidly growing group where members would post stories about alleged negative COVID-19 vaccine side effects.
The group, “COVID19 VACCINE VICTIMS AND FAMILIES,” had over 120,000 followers when it was shut down and had been gaining more than 10,000 followers per week.
The shutdown of the page follows Facebook introducing a ban on a wide range of claims about the coronavirus vaccine in February. The list of prohibited claims includes claims that the vaccines cause blood clots and claims that the coronavirus vaccine change people’s DNA (something that even Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Facebook staff during a July 2020 internal meeting).
Not only is Facebook restricting a wide range of vaccine-related claims but it’s also adding labels to all posts about coronavirus vaccines. These labels state that vaccines are safe and direct users to sources that Facebook has deemed “authoritative” such as the World Health Organization (WHO).
Facebook’s actions are similar to those of other Big Tech platforms which have also cracked down on vaccine-related conversations over the last few months. YouTube prohibits videos that go against the WHO “consensus” on coronavirus vaccines and adds information panels to some videos that direct viewers to the WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Twitter also bans “harmful misleading” posts about vaccines.
Politicians have actively encouraged this Big Tech crackdown on vaccine skepticism. Days ago, Democrats pushed Facebook and Twitter to “address” 12 prominent vaccine skeptics. State Attorneys General also told Facebook and Twitter to kill vaccine skepticism earlier this month.
These crackdowns on vaccine skeptic conversations come amid mass pushes from global governments to introduce digital vaccine passports that force people to prove their vaccination or test status to enter business premises.