Facebook has officially teamed up with an organization known to push Chinese propaganda in order to shut down online skepticism about COVID-19 vaccines.
Facebook and multinational biopharmaceutical company Merck & Co., Inc. announced that they would be teaming up to work with other companies and organizations, including the Chinese propaganda-pushing World Health Organization (WHO), to research and promote how online platforms can best challenge and shutdown what Facebook calls “vaccine hesitancy.”
The social media giant and Merck “are each committing $20 million to this multi-year initiative,” according to a Facebook Newsroom blog. “The partners of the Alliance include the Bay Area Global Health Alliance, the CDC Foundation, Facebook, the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, Merck, Sabin Vaccine Institute, the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the World Bank and the World Health Organization,” Facebook’s Head of Health Kang-Xing Jin wrote.
Changing people’s “health behavior” is at the heart of the initiative: “While the initial focus of research supported will be on COVID-19 vaccinations, the Alliance intends to create a global network of centers of social media and health research focused on improving health behavior via online platforms,” read Merck’s press release about the new initiative.
Silicon Valley has tapped the WHO as the gold standard of truth about COVID-19. Yet, the WHO has a history of pushing some of its own dubious claims about the virus.
The WHO tweeted on Jan.14, 2020 that there was “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus.” However, even the WHO’s own timeline of events shows a case was first reported in Thailand on Jan. 13, 2020.
Facebook’s partnership with the WHO is questionable, but not surprising.
Facebook began recommending information provided by the WHO when coronavirus started to become an issue of national importance. The platform recommended WHO information to users who had a history of engaging with content that the platform deemed to be misinformation. “These messages will connect people to COVID-19 myths debunked by the WHO including ones we’ve removed from our platform for leading to imminent physical harm.”
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