Facebook Bans Hundreds Of Accounts Claiming That COVID-19 Vaccine Turns Humans Into Chimpanzees

An image of a chimpanzee.
Gettyimages | Gabriel Kuchta
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Facebook is reportedly cracking down on hundreds of accounts that have been pushing an odd bit of disinformation about COVID-19 vaccine, claiming that it can turn humans into chimpanzees.

The crackdown comes amid a reported uptick in false information about the COVID-19 vaccine, which has been connected to Russian disinformation efforts. Facebook has come under fire in the past for its inaction against false information on its platform, and has again come under intense scrutiny as claims about COVID-19 vaccines spread.

Facebook Cracks Down

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Unsplash | Solen Feyissa

As India Today reported, the social media company banned close to 300 accounts that had been pushing misinformation about the vaccine. The report claimed that these accounts were connected to a "Russian misinformation network" that had been pushing these false claims for months.

The accounts had claimed to show a leaked document from pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, maker of one of the COVID-19 vaccines. It was connected to a network that created fake hashtags and coordinated to spam false links on other social media outlets, including Instagram.

Odd Claims

A chimpanzee in a zoo exposure.
Gettyimages | David Silverman

As India Today noted, one of the claims that had been pushed on Facebook was particularly outlandish. It said that the vaccine had the ability to turn humans into chimpanzees.

"AstraZeneca created a vaccine based on chimpanzee genes when tests showed side effects, this vaccine should be banned, otherwise we will all become chimpanzees," read one of the claims pushed on a misinformation network.

The report added that the campaign used a number of hashtags targeting AstraZeneca, which garnered thousands of shares across social media.

Facebook Responds

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Unsplash | Souvik Banerjee

Facebook spoke out against the misinformation efforts, saying that security teams were actively seeking and removing false information.

"Our teams continue to focus on finding and removing deceptive campaigns around the world -- whether they are foreign or domestic. We know that influence operation will keep evolving in response to our enforcement, and new deceptive behaviours will emerge," Facebook said in the report.

Facebook had been under fire in the past for failing to crack down on false information, especially during the 2016 American presidential election.

Social Media Company Under Fire

Joe Biden speaks at an event.
Gettyimages | Drew Angerer

As Reuters reported, the White House had spoken out against Facebook back in July, saying the company was not doing enough to stop the spread of misinformation regarding COVID-19 vaccines.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki pointed out that 12 people were responsible for 65% of all vaccine misinformation, and that the company needed to do more to stop it.

"All of them remain active on Facebook," Psaki said, adding that the social media giant "needs to move more quickly to remove harmful violative posts."