Google has launched Covid-19 information panels to tackle misinformation about vaccines

Business Insider US
The near search feature will show information panels on each vaccine.
  • Google rolled out new Covid-19 information panels on its search results Thursday to provide people with accurate information on vaccines.
  • The new feature will list authorised vaccines in the user's location, and show information panels on each one, Google said in a blog post.
  • The panels will first be launched in the UK which began vaccinating people Tuesday. It'll then be introduced into more countries once they authorize a vaccine.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Google on Thursday launched new Covid-19 information panels in its search results to help stop the spread of misinformation about coronavirus vaccines online.

When people look up anything about Covid-19 shots on Google, the new search feature will list authorised vaccines in their area, and show information panels on each vaccine, the internet giant said in a blog post on Thursday.

The feature will be rolled out first in the UK, which on Tuesday became the first Western country to begin vaccinating its citizens with the Pfizer and BioNTech shot to fight the novel coronavirus. The US and the European Union are yet to approve a shot.

As more vaccines get authorised by health authorities, Google said it'll introduce the feature in more countries.

Google said its coronavirus information panels on YouTube, which were launched in March, have been viewed 400 million times. The panels can be seen on the YouTube homepage, in search results, and on videos about the Covid-19 crisis.

This isn't the first step Google has taken to prevent inaccurate information about coronavirus seeping through the internet.

The tech firm in July banned websites from running ads on "dangerous content" that goes against scientific consensus regarding coronavirus. These ads included those that claimed the virus was created by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, or that it's a hoax, Google said.

In November, Google joined a fact-checking group created by British charity Full Fact, along with Facebook and Twitter, to prevent misinformation about the deadly vaccine from spreading online and across social media sites. 

Since the coronavirus outbreak began in March, Big Tech has had a relentless battle in fighting misinformation about Covid-19. Now that a vaccine has been approved, it's clear people are skeptical about getting immunised.

Facebook announced December 3 it will remove any posts sharing false claims about Covid-19 vaccines. These claims include shots being given without people's consent, and vaccines containing microchips.

But its trendy subsidiary, Instagram, seems to be more of a threat because of its fast-growing audience for anti-vaxx accounts, Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), told Business Insider December 4.

A Pew Research Center survey conducted in November and published last week found 39% of respondents said they would either definitely not or probably not get vaccinated. 

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