The reports are delivered in the context of the COVID-19 disinformation monitoring programme set up under the 10 June 2020 Joint Communication.
The results of the COVID-19 Disinformation Monitoring Programme are also feeding into the revision of the Code of Practice on Disinformation, in particular into the design of the monitoring framework for the strengthened Code.
Fighting COVID-19 vaccines disinformation
Platforms report on their updated policies and initiatives to reduce the spread of COVID-19 vaccines disinformation in July and August, for example:
- Twitter reports about updating its Public Service Announcement (PSA) carousels, which appear on top of users feed with new content and more information on COVID-19 variants. The COVID-19 vaccines PSA prompt directs people to country-specific Twitter Moments containing authoritative information around COVID-19 vaccines. Also, Twitter launched a pro bono promoted feature in France that appears in “trends” to support the vaccination campaign during the fourth wave of COVID-19, which received 11.2 million impressions and 20.2K engagement.
- TikTok introduced a new tool called “TopView” positioning, meaning that the videos placed in this category appear when users open the app and they are sound-on videos with full screen cover. TikTok reports offering this tool to the French government vaccination campaign in August, which generated 9 million impressions, combined with President Macron directly answering users questions on the channel. TikTok reports that videos tagged with the COVID vaccine tag steadily increased across Europe, increasing from to 114368 in June to 124851 in July and 130892 in August.
- Microsoft keeps on showing a vaccine tracker on Bing, indicating the progress of vaccination in individual countries and globally. LinkedIn’s official page on COVID-19 and vaccines is regularly updated to provide authoritative information and prevent misinformation on vaccines. In July and August, the coverage has been extended to include official information about vaccines and vaccination, about vaccination being opened to teenagers in France and about vaccination within companies in Italy.
- Google are now expanding access for government organisations to promote COVID-19 content compliant to Google’s Personalised Advertising Policy, including general COVID-19 vaccine information and updates on the latest COVID-19 protocols. YouTube publicly announced in September that it will ban all anti-vaccine misinformation. As the announcement was not included in the current report, we are looking forward to reading further details on it in the next instalment of the reports.
- Facebook reports that in July it has extended its previous partnership in France to provide educational videos to combat COVID-19 misinformation. The campaign launched five new educational videos about applications, tools, tips and methods to help verify information, also in the form of videos and images, and conduct online research.
Further reporting for July and August
The reports provide further information illustrating actions taken to fight COVID-19 related disinformation and the impact of these actions through July and August 2021. Some examples from the reports:
- Twitter reports launching a collaboration with Reuters and the Associated Press (AP) in August. Seeking to elevate credible information in real time in emerging conversations, the collaboration will increase the amount of contextual information provided to users on trending issues. The partnership will initially focus on English-language content.
- TikTok’s report shows that while the number of videos tagged with the Vaccine tag keep on increasing, the number of videos with just the COVID tag drop to 1661 in July and 1261 in August.
- Microsoft reports that the Bing COVID experience had 2400084 views in the EU in July, in line with the June numbers, and an almost 50% increase in August (4710491 views, + 2310407 compared to July). The report shows that in July Microsoft Advertising reaching users in the EU had a huge drop in the number of ads blocked for violating its ads policies (including on COVID-19 and vaccines), falling to 286485 (-1297396 from June). In August the trend reversed, with 5448845 ads blocked for violating Microsoft advertisings policies, the highest since the beginning of the COVID-19 Disinformation Monitoring Programme.
- Google reported taking action against 16479 URLs on AdSense in July and August, an increase compared to June (+1584), with the most remarkable increase in actions taken in France (+1003 compared to June). At the same time, the number of ads and ad accounts rejected for violation of COVID advertising policies are in line with those reported in July, with a small increase in blocked accounts (+10).
- Facebook reports that during the month of July over 110000 pieces of content in the EU were removed for violating COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation policies on Facebook and Instagram (+ 34000 compared to June). In August, this number increased (+ 40000 compared to July), reaching over 160000 pieces of content.