Oversight Board Selects a PAO on the Removal of COVID-19 Misinformation


APR 20, 2023

Today, the Oversight Board announced the selection of a policy advisory opinion (PAO) referred by Meta that requests review of how we handle health misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meta removes misinformation during public health emergencies when public health authorities conclude that the information is false and likely to directly contribute to the risk of imminent physical harm because it violates our policy on Misinformation, as laid out in our Community Standards.

Since COVID-19 was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) in January 2020, we have applied this policy to COVID-19 content that public health experts have determined falls into the category of likely to directly contribute to imminent physical harm. More on our COVID-19 policies can be found in our Help Center.

These policies were extraordinary measures implemented to keep up with challenges imposed by the pandemic. Furthermore, the state of the pandemic is constantly changing and Meta recognizes that the COVID-19 information ecosystem has evolved since the creation of our COVID-19 misinformation policy.

As a result, Meta is seeking the board’s insight on whether certain COVID-19 misinformation still satisfies our standard for removing harmful health misinformation, or whether Meta should address that information through alternative enforcement options in the future.

Options available to Meta include:

  • Continuing to remove certain COVID-19 misinformation that directly contributes to a risk of imminent physical harm.

  • Temporary emergency reduction measures where Meta would cease removing COVID-19 misinformation and instead reduce the distribution of those claims.

  • Third-party fact checking where, instead of removing COVID-19 misinformation, Meta would defer to independent third-party fact checkers to find and rate the falsity of those claims.

  • Labels, whereby Meta would temporarily affix labels that direct users to authoritative information underneath this content on our platforms.

Once the board has finished deliberating on the PAO, we will consider and publicly respond to its recommendations within 60 days, and will update this post accordingly. Please visit the board’s website for the recommendations when they are published.

Case decision

We welcome the Oversight Board’s decision today on this policy advisory opinion referral.

After conducting a review of the recommendations provided by the board, we will publicly respond to its recommendations within 60 days and will update this post accordingly.