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Facebook Is Banning Ads That "Discourage" Vaccines

It follows efforts to limit Holocaust denial, voter intimidation, and the QAnon mass delusion.

Posted on October 13, 2020, at 1:08 p.m. ET

Pascal Rossignol / Reuters

A doctor vaccinates a patient as part of the start of the seasonal influenza vaccination campaign in Gouzeaucourt, France, October 13, 2020.

Facebook announced it won’t accept ads that “discourage” vaccines, the latest example of the social giant’s more aggressive approach to regulating content and ads as the US election approaches and the pandemic drags on.

The company said the ban on anti-vaccine ads is part of a new effort to support immunization efforts around the world, including encouraging people to get a flu shot.

“Our goal is to help messages about the safety and efficacy of vaccines reach a broad group of people, while prohibiting ads with misinformation that could harm public health efforts,” wrote Kang-Xing Jin, the company’s head of health, and Rob Leathern, director of product management for the ads team.

They said the new policy builds on an existing policy that bans ads that contain “vaccine hoaxes.”

“Now, if an ad explicitly discourages someone from getting a vaccine, we’ll reject it,” the company's post announcing the new policy said.

Prior to this week some folks might have thought Facebook had already banned Holocaust denialism and anti-vaccine ads.


Last week, Facebook banned content related to the QAnon mass delusion, announced a ban on election and social issues ads after polls close on Nov. 3, and said it would remove content that encouraged people to engage in poll watching “when those calls use militarized language” or could intimidate voters or officials.

On Monday, it announced that it would remove any Holocaust denial content. In 2018, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he believed Holocaust denial should be allowed on the platform to protect free speech. Yesterday, he said his thinking on the issue has “evolved.”

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.