Meta rolls back COVID-19 misinformation prevention measures in certain regions

After the WHO lifted the highest level alert for COVID-19 and consultations with their Oversight Board, Meta has decided to roll back its misinformation prevention measures in regions where the pandemic is no longer a national emergency.

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Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Whatsapp, and Instagram, said it would reverse its COVID-19 misinformation regulations in nations that lifted the pandemic’s national emergency classification.

This comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) lifted the highest level of alert for COVID-19 on 5 May, more than three years after it was first declared, saying governments should now handle the virus alongside other infectious diseases. Meta’s disinformation rules will no longer be applied universally but rather be adjusted to each location based on the status of the epidemic.

Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter were pressured to combat pandemic misinformation, including bogus vaccine claims, pushing them to institute severe measures. More recently, Meta sought advice from their Oversight Board to review their misinformation policies, which, paired with WHO announcement, contributed to them curtailing disinformation procedures (full advisory document available here). Twitter ceased enforcing their ‘COVID-19 misleading information policy‘ soon after the Musk takeover in November 2022.