Facebook launching tool to connect users with COVID-19 vaccine appointments

Posted at 1:40 PM, Mar 15, 2021

MENLO PARK, Calif. – Facebook announced Monday that it’s launching a tool that will show users when and where they can get vaccinated for COVID-19, as well as provide links to make appointments.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement that the tool will be in the website’s COVID Information Center, which is visible in people’s News Feed.

The locations in the tool are provided by VaccineFinder and include hours of operation, contact information and links to make appointments. It will be supported in 71 languages and the company plans to expand it to countries other than the U.S. as vaccines are more widely available.

Zuckerberg also said the company is bringing the COVID Information Center to Instagram, where it will also be featured prominently. Additionally, he said the company is working with health authorities and governments to expand its WhatsApp chatbots to help people register for vaccines.

“The data shows the vaccines are safe and they work,” wrote Zuckerberg. “They're our best hope for getting past this virus and getting back to normal life. I'm looking forward to getting mine, and I hope you are too.”

In an accompanying press release, Facebook also announced that it’s adding labels on posts about COVID-19 vaccines to show additional information from the World Health Organization.

“For example, we’re adding a label on posts that discuss the safety of COVID-19 vaccines that notes COVID-19 vaccines go through tests for safety and effectiveness before they’re approved,” wrote Facebook.

Facebook has also implemented several temporary measures to further limit the spread of potentially harmful COVID-19 and vaccine information during the pandemic. Some of those measures include:

  • Reducing the distribution of content from users that have violated policies on COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation or that have repeatedly shared content debunked as false or altered by our third-party fact-checking partners, and of any COVID-19 or vaccine content that fact-checking partners have rated as “Missing Context”
  • Requiring admins for groups with admins or members who have violated COVID-19 policies to temporarily approve all posts within their group
  • Continuing to further elevate information from authoritative sources when people seek information about COVID-19 or vaccines

The company says these actions are party of global campaign that aiming to bring 50 million people a step closer to getting COVID-19 vaccines.

Though the company has been taking steps to combat misinformation related to the pandemic, both Facebook and Instagram have been criticized for allowing anti-vaccination propaganda to spread, and for being woefully slow in weeding out the misinformation.