Pakistan joins hands with Facebook to fight against Covid-19 misinformation

Web DeskWeb Editor

22nd Jun, 2021. 03:53 pm
Facebook can ask users regarding "negative experiences" within the News Feed

KARACHI: The government of Pakistan has partnered with Facebook in their fight against Covid-19, as over 32 million people in Pakistan received authoritative information regarding the Covid prevention and vaccination through social media messaging campaigns conducted by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Information’s Digital Media Wing in partnership with Facebook, a statement said on Tuesday.

Facebook provided marketing partner support and advertisement credits for these campaigns and helped the government increase its engagement rates with the public on these posts between March 16 and April 6, 2021, it added.

As part of these campaigns, Facebook and the ministries focused on creating videos and messages on boosting greater vaccine confidence among the nation. The messaging campaigns helped the Ministry of Health increase its total number of page likes to 470,000 – increasing the government’s ability to connect with and provide information to its stakeholders.

As Covid-19 vaccines are becoming more readily available to larger groups, Facebook launched new Facebook profile frames in partnership with the Ministry of Health that allow users to share their support for getting vaccinated with their family and friends, it said.

Research shows when people see others who they know and trust getting the vaccine, they will be encouraged to do the same. This can be particularly effective when it comes to encouraging those who were otherwise unsure about getting themselves vaccinated.

Dr Faisal Sultan, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health, said: “We are appreciative of the support extended by Facebook in our fight against Covid-19. We reached 76 per cent of our target population through our social media messaging campaigns. The pandemic has brought to the forefront the importance of using digital tools for transmitting critical health information to citizens and keeping them safe and healthy.”

Throughout the pandemic, Facebook has worked closely with the two ministries to direct the people to authoritative Covid-19 information. A campaign to create awareness about spotting Covid-related misinformation on social media was also launched in Urdu for the Facebook community in Pakistan in partnership with the Ministry of Information’s Digital Media Wing.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry said: “We appreciate the hard work put in by the Ministry of Health and the Digital Media Wing of the government of Pakistan in bringing together an engaging campaign in partnership with Facebook.”

“It is crucial to differentiate between information and misinformation in the age of digital communication. Facebook has supported the spread of accurate information through their drive of removing misinformation and fact checking of news. We hope to partner with Facebook in the future to ensure that the people of our nation are provided with accurate information,” he added.

Facebook has worked to take aggressive steps to remove harmful misinformation and connect people to resources from the health authorities. Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, Facebook removed more than 16 million pieces of content from Facebook and Instagram globally for violations against our policies on Covid-19-related misinformation and harm.

Between March and October of 2020, Facebook displayed warnings on around 167 million pieces of content on Facebook worldwide based on Covid-19-related debunking articles written by our fact checking partners.

Globally, Facebook has connected over two billion people to resources from the health authorities through the Covid-19 information centre and pop-ups on Facebook and Instagram with over 600 million people clicking through to learn more.
On WhatsApp, over three billion messages have been sent by the governments, nonprofit and international organisations to citizens through the WhatsApp government chatbots on Covid-19.

Sehar Tariq, a leading Public Policy adviser for Pakistan at Facebook, said: “By working closely with the Ministry of Health and [the] Ministry of Information’s Digital Media Wing in Pakistan we’re doing our part to help the users in Pakistan in getting credible information. We would like to express our gratitude to honourable Fawad Chaudhry, minister for information and broadcasting and Dr Faisal Sultan, SAPM on health for the tireless coordination and support they have extended to our team.”

“We at Facebook will continuously work towards making the fight against the pandemic easier for the government and our community in Pakistan and across the globe. We hope to keep extending our support and expertise where possible in the government of Pakistan’s fight against Covid. It is so important that we come together as a community to protect ourselves and each other through credible health information and support vaccine confidence in our community.”

Imran Ghazali, general manager at Digital Media Wing, said: “One of the important steps to win the battle against Covid-19 is to create awareness among [the] masses with the latest and authentic health information and, at the same time, fight the disinformation on social media. In this regard, our partnership with Facebook has played a critical role in reaching the masses with the information related to vaccine registration, following SOPs and we will continue to work with Facebook to reach and engage more citizens across Pakistan.”

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