Google takes on COVID-19 vaccine misinformation

The tech giant is adding new searches for COVID-19 vaccines, new funds for fact-checking initiatives and efforts to remove misleading content.
By Laura Lovett
02:18 pm
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Google phone screen example listing COVID-19 vaccines

Now that several vaccines have come out with promising results, vaccine misinformation is also growing. Tech giant Google is now zeroing in on this potential issue by implementing new strategies to coping with misinformation, according to a new blog post

Users in the U.K. will now be able to use a new search feature on the platform in order to look up COVID-19 vaccine information, as well as authorized vaccines in their area. Starting there and rolling out across the world as vaccines get local clearance, the tool also gives users more information about the vaccines.

The company is also planning on building on its YouTube information plans first launched in March by adding authoritative information on vaccines. 

Google is pledging $1.5 million to a new fact-checking initiative called the COVID-19 Vaccine Media Hub. The program is going to be developed to help journalists with fact-checking materials. 

Its last effort is around removing misleading content, an initiative that it started during the pandemic but is now expanding to vaccine information. The company said that the misinformation policy will now cover information about vaccines, allowing Google to remove any information that contradicts the CDC or WHO guidelines. 

WHY IT MATTERS 

Vaccine misinformation has been a public health problem for a long time. According to the CDC, vaccines help not only protect the person getting the inoculation, but also the community members who are not immune. The agency warns that the outbreak of vaccine-preventable diseases can still happen in the U.S., giving the example of recent measles outbreaks.

While the COVID-19 vaccines are new, the CDC and WHO have created resources to help the public understand the science behind them and options. 

THE LARGER TREND 

Google has been involved with several efforts to combat the coronavirus. One of the biggest moves the company made in these efforts was teaming up with Apple on an exposure notification API to help with contact-tracing efforts. 

In September it updated Google Maps to show users the prevalence of coronavirus cases in their area.  

Other tech giants have also joined in these efforts. Facebook pledged to curb misinformation about the coronavirus in February. Then in April it rolled out three new COVID-19 health-tracking maps

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