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Facebook to block ads discouraging people from getting vaccines

Kurt Wagner

Facebook Inc. will reject ads that discourage people from getting vaccines, citing a new policy meant to prevent “harm” to public health efforts.

Facebook already forbids ads that promote vaccine hoaxes or misinformation about vaccines. The company will also put educational material about the flu shot in users’ feeds.

“Public health officials recommend that most people get a flu shot every year. This year, they think it is especially important to minimize the risk of concurrent flu and Covid-19,” Facebook wrote in a blog post Tuesday.

The company said that ads advocating for or against legislation or government policies around vaccines – including a COVID-19 vaccine – are still allowed. Anyone running these ads must be authorized and include a “paid for by” label so people can see who is funding the messages, Facebook added.

The social network has previously tried to minimize the spread of anti-vaccination information. It stopped surfacing vaccine posts in search results and started rejecting ads with misleading claims about vaccines in 2019.

Unpaid, or organic, posts discouraging vaccine use are still allowed, unless they violate another Facebook policy. Facebook’s advertising rules are generally stricter because the company is showing these paid messages to people pro-actively.