Facebook has provided an update on its efforts to increase COVID-19 vaccine take-up around the world, by maximizing awareness of vaccine availability, and reducing misinformation and resistance to the global vaccination program.
And while there have been some instances of negative side effects from the vaccine, the consensus from health experts remains that maximizing vaccine take-up is the best way for the world to move beyond the pandemic, and get back to normal life. Still, there is a high degree of vaccine hesitancy – which, research suggests Facebook itself has fueled over time – but with a renewed focus on improving vaccine take-up, and working with health officials in different regions, Facebook is now doing its part to help improve response and take-up rates.
A key tool in this is Facebook’s Vaccine Finder, which provides people with information on where they can get a COVID-19 vaccine in their area.
Facebook says that over 3.3 million people have visited the vaccine finder tool since its launch in March, while more users have also gleaned helpful vaccine information from Facebook’s COVID-19 information center, contributing to broader awareness within the vaccine push.
Facebook also notes that it’s allocated more than $30 million in ad credits this year to help governments, NGOs and other organizations reach people with COVID-19 vaccine information and other important messages.
As per Facebook:
“These information campaigns resulted in an estimated 10 billion ad impressions globally. We’re also adding authoritative information to posts about vaccines on Facebook and Instagram that link to the COVID-19 Information Center for more resources.”
Facebook also recently launched new profile frames to help raise awareness of vaccines and boost take-up.
The company says that more than 5 million people around the world have now applied these profile frames, and more than 50% of people in the US on Facebook have already seen someone use the COVID-19 vaccine profile frame, adding to the push. Facebook also says that its similar Instagram vaccine awareness stickers have been used more than 7 million times, with more than 25% of accounts on Instagram in the US having seen someone using a COVID-19 vaccine sticker.
That’s a significant addition, particularly given the influence peer updates like this can have on user behavior.
Facebook further notes that it’s removed more than 16 million pieces of this content from its apps for breaking its rules around COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation, as it works to limit the spread of dangerous conspiracy theories. Which, as noted, Facebook has probably fueled in the first place – but even with that potentially being the case, it’s important to see Facebook switching focus here, and realigning its policies with increasing need, based on the broader global health push.
Those efforts have had a positive impact on vaccine take-up, but there is still a way to go in the global effort.
Facebook further notes that while vaccine acceptance has been increasing steadily since January – rising by nearly 10% among all US adults – vaccine hesitancy is still high due to concerns about possible side effects, and distrust of the government.
Again, it’s often been through Facebook groups and posts that these conspiracy theories and misinformation campaigns have proliferated, which is still happening to some degree. But the broader push has prompted Facebook to take further action on addressing this, which, hopefully, will also see the platform look to address similar movements earlier in their development moving forward, in order to avoid future instances of the same.
Of course, you can’t eliminate all vaccine resistance. Even during past pandemics, there’s been scaremongering around medications and treatments, but the best we can do is to go on the official health advice, and work together towards maximizing take-up.
Which means we all have to do our part, and through Facebook, that could involve adding a profile frame, amplifying vaccine information. Or simply supporting those who do this via their Facebook presence.
We still have a long way to go before we can say that we’re moving on to the next stage, and vaccine take-up is key to this shift.
Facebook-Meta Earns the ‘Worst Company of 2021’ Title in This Survey
Facebook parent Meta has been named the Worst Company of the Year (2021) by Yahoo Finance respondents. According to the publication, an “open-ended” survey was published on Yahoo Finance on December 4 and 5, where 1,541 respondents participated. Facebook received 8 percent of the write-in vote, but respondents were seemingly mad about the Robinhood trading app as well. Electric truck startup Nikola, which was named last year’s worst company by the same publication also faced respondents ire.
Yahoo Finance even highlights, “At the same time, some critics, including conservatives, say Facebook over-policed the platform’s speech and stifled their voices.” Critics also blame Facebook and other social media platforms for not curbing hate speech that led to Capitol Building riots.
However, around 30 percent of Yahoo Finance readers said that Facebook or Meta could redeem itself. One respondent suggested that the company could issue a formal apology for negligence and donate a sizable amount of its profits to a foundation to help reverse its harm.
On the other hand, respondents chose Microsoft as the Company of the Year (2021). The Satya Nadella-led company touched the trillion-mark this year and introduced notable upgrades. The most notable is the Windows 11 OS update that succeeds Windows 10.
Facebook pays 1.7 Cr fine to Russia after failing to delete content Moscow deems illegal
In the latest legal tussle with Russia over controversial social media regulation laws, Facebook paid 17 million roubles (Rs 1.7 Crore) for failing to remove content deemed illegal by Moscow. With a threat of potential larger fines looming, Facebook parent company Meta, owned by Mark Zuckerberg, is scheduled to face court next week over repeated violations of Russian legislation on content, Interfax News Agency reported. As per the latest updates, the social media giant could be fined a percentage of its annual revenue.
In October, Moscow sent state bailiffs to enforce the collection of 17 million roubles. Meanwhile, as per Interfax report citing a federal bailiffs’ database, on Sunday, there were more enforcement proceedings against the company. Apart from the popular social media app, Telegram has also paid 15 million roubles in fines for failing to comply with the Russian social media legislations that came into force in 2016.
Facebook pays $53k to Russia for refusing controversial social media laws
It is pertinent to mention that Facebook has locked horns with Moscow earlier in November, resulting in it paying 4 million roubles ($53,000) over its refusal to adhere to Russian data localisation laws, the Moscow Times reported. The Moscow court on November 25 had said that Facebook paid the fine levied in February, following which all proceedings against the US-based social media giant. The payment comes against the litigation filed against the company in 2018, alongside Twitter. The tech companies were also forced to pay an additional 3000 rubles ($40) for failing to comply with user data sharing rules as per the law. The Russian authorities have also previously blocked LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft, for failing to abide by the laws.
Russian social media laws
As per Moscow Times, under the Russian social media regulation laws, all foreign technology companies are required to store data related to Russian customers and users on servers located in Russia. Additionally, the Russian tech companies will also have to share encryption data with the federal authorities as well as record user calls, messages and civil society group conversation records. The apparatus is said to be a severe breach of privacy rights and unfettered back-door access to personal data that could be used to harass Kremlin critics.
Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses
Meta has announced the arrival of a new Split Payments feature in Facebook Messenger. This feature, as the name suggests, will let you calculate and split expenses with others right from Facebook Messenger. This feature essentially looks to bring an easier method to share the cost of bills and expenses — for example, splitting a dinner bill with friends. Using this new Split Payment feature, Facebook Messenger users will be able to split bills evenly or modify the contribution for each individual, including their own.
The company took to its blog post to announce the new Split Payment feature in Facebook Messenger. 9to5Mac reports that this new bill splitting feature is still in beta and will be exclusive to US users at first. The rollout will begin early next week. As mentioned, it will help users share the cost of bills, expenses, and payments. This feature is especially useful for those who share an apartment and need to split the monthly rent and other expenses with their mates. It could also come handy at a group dinner with many people.
With Split Payments, users can add the number of people the expense needs to be divided with and, by default, the amount entered will be divided in equal parts. A user can also modify each person’s contribution including their own. To use Split Payments, click the Get Started button in a group chat or the Payments Hub in Messenger. Users can modify the contribution in the Split Payments option and send a notification to all the users who need to make payments. After entering a personalised message and confirming your Facebook Pay details, the request will be sent and viewable in the group chat thread.
Once someone has made the payment, you can mark their transaction as ‘completed’. The Split Payment feature will automatically take into account your share as well and calculate the amount owed accordingly.
Tasneem Akolawala is a Senior Reporter for Gadgets 360. Her reporting expertise encompasses smartphones, wearables, apps, social media, and the overall tech industry. She reports out of Mumbai, and also writes about the ups and downs in the Indian telecom sector. Tasneem can be reached on Twitter at @MuteRiot, and leads, tips, and releases can be sent to email@example.com.