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Facebook campaigns against COVID misinformation in Pacific

Facebook app on cell phone
Source: RNZ Pacific

Menlo Park, CA — Facebook says it has launched a public education campaign to combat health-related misinformation in the Pacific Islands region.

In a time of critical public vaccination efforts, Facebook says its campaign will help people in five Pacific Island countries and territories learn how to identify and combat misinformation.

The locations and languages are Wallis & Futuna (French), New Caledonia (French), Tonga (English & Tongan) Solomon Islands (English and Solomon Islands Pijim), and Cook Islands (English).

Facebook is the dominant social media platform in the Pacific where numerous countries are grappling with pandemic challenges of misinformation and vaccine hesitancy.

The campaign follows an earlier launch in Samoa, Fiji and Papua New Guinea and will run for five weeks featuring graphics and videos.

Facebook says the content is designed to encourage three key behaviors by Facebook users:

  • •                      Awareness: be informed that misinformation exists
  • •                      Investigation: find out more to confirm if the information is indeed false
  • •                      Action: visit the local health authority to get accurate information

For Facebook public policy for Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Islands, director Mia Garlick said the company wanted to "give people the tools to make informed decisions about the information they see on Facebook".

"We are extending our efforts to reach more people across the Pacific, ensuring they can easily compare what they see with official public health resources.

"We will continue to work with health experts including the World Health Organization [WHO], and local partners, to make sure that we have the right policies in place to reduce the spread of harmful Covid-19 and Covid-19 vaccine misinformation on our platform."

Facebook says it has worked closely with the WHO to direct people to authoritative COVID-19 information, and to "do more to identify and take action to remove incorrect claims about the virus".