Facebook’s COVID-19 Information Center promises to connect more people than ever with 2021’s coronavirus vaccine.
This Information Center can be easily accessed on a mobile phone. Here, Facebook has partnered with Boston Children’s Hospital to provide information on vaccination centers such as location and opening hours. Facebook uses data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently, the data only spans across the United States, but Facebook reports that it is working on supporting an additional 71 languages and more countries. Facebook recently acquired Instagram, so the COVID-19 Information Center appears on the app as well.
Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook have been under heavy fire for the rampant pandemic misinformation that exists on the platform. Zuckerberg told CNN in a Skype interview that Facebook desires to make it right, and that connecting people with quality information on the vaccine is “one of the most important functions that Facebook can do right now.”
Facebook has taken great strides to ensure that people can access the Information Center’s landing page directly from Facebook posts flagged as having information about the pandemic. In this way, the average user can fact-check the post against Facebook’s data collected from the World Health Organization, for both Facebook and Instagram, which is also owned by Facebook.
Virginia Cadenhead, professor of nursing, said that her primary concern is the legitimacy of the information. If Facebook is truly getting its information from sources such as the CDC and WHO, Cadenhead said she thinks Facebook could be of help.
“Whether (the information) is tested on Facebook or not does not really matter as much as who it came from,” Cadenhead said. She added that students should not be scared of the vaccine, although they should definitely think critically about taking it.
James Rierson, sophomore biomedical sciences major, echoed Cadenhead’s concerns.
“I wouldn’t trust any source by itself anyways,” Rierson said. “I think it’s
important to double-check that information with information you find elsewhere.”
Some students, on the other hand, have a deep mistrust of Facebook. Chloe Hoopes, sophomore art therapy major, said she rarely ever uses the platform because she believes it lacks reliability.
“I think they have the right to (distribute information), but I personally don’t like being bombarded with what to do,” Hoopes said.
Facebook has burned its users multiple times in the past, but it promises to turn over a new leaf with its COVID-19 Information Center.
Students eligible to receive the vaccine can access the Information Center within the Facebook app by searching “COVID-19.”