With more than 2.6 billion daily users, it's no secret that Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) reaches a lot of people around the world across Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Building on its COVID-19 information center, the tech stock recently announced a big push to provide authoritative information about coronavirus vaccines. This new campaign will connect users with localized vaccine information, remove more vaccine misinformation from its platforms, and donate $120 million in ad credits to health agencies.
Corinne Cardina, Fool.com's healthcare and cannabis bureau chief, got the chance to speak with KX Jin, Facebook's Head of Health, on Feb. 10 about Facebook's plan to increase trust in COVID vaccines.
Corinne Cardina: Hi, everybody. I am Corinne Cardina, I'm the Bureau Chief of Healthcare and Cannabis on Fool.com. I'm so thrilled to welcome KX Jin who is Head of Health at Facebook. KX and I are going to talk about some big news regarding Facebook's efforts to help with COVID-19 recovery and vaccination. Hi there, KX, and welcome to Fool Live. How are you today?
KX Jin: Doing well. Thank you for having me.
Cardina: Excellent. I would love to start by sharing your background with our audience. You've had a long career at Facebook, starting out as a software engineer and working as a product lead on many different projects across the company. I imagine you know Facebook inside out, and of course, now you are head of health. Could you tell me briefly about how your different experiences at Facebook prepared you for this role and are there people with health or medical expertise on your team?
Jin: I've been at Facebook a little over 14 years now, working across roles and teams. I started as an engineer two weeks before we launched News Feed, and then I spent a long time in various engineering and products roles. About two years ago after seeing how people were using Facebook tools and products to connect around health and for health-related support, we decided to create a dedicated team to support this area more deliberately as part of our social impact work. Health really affects everyone. Adjusting people's health needs requires a team to incorporate a broad set of perspectives. The individual themselves, but also friends and family, caregivers, clinicians, and other healthcare experts. Our team has people with all of these perspectives on it. We also work very closely in partnership with outside health experts and organization. In my time at Facebook, I've had the privilege to go to a lot of these teams in different areas over the last decade. I'm tremendously grateful now to have the opportunity to do that in health.
Cardina: Certainly. The past year has shown us how important focusing on health, of course, is. I want to talk a little bit about Facebook's work in the COVID-19 space. Last March, Facebook launched the COVID-19 Information Center, and that came at the top of News Feed so that users can get reliable and authoritative information around the pandemic. Of course, today we're a little over a year into the pandemic and Facebook is now focused on helping the world recover from the pandemic, which of course includes vaccination. That leads us to the big news of this week, you announced that Facebook is unveiling the largest worldwide campaign to promote authoritative information about COVID-19 vaccines in order to build trust and confidence in those vaccines. Just to hit, a couple of the highlights as part of the campaign, Facebook is donating $120 million in ad credits to health ministries, NGOs, and UN agencies so they can share accurate information. Beyond the Facebook platform, the COVID-19 Information Center will be launched on Instagram, and Facebook will be partnering with health agencies to share COVID-19 information on WhatsApp as well. What else does this campaign entail and how can Facebook users actually find out when and where they can get vaccinated?
Jin: The COVID-19 Information Center is something we launched last year, shortly after COVID was declared a public health emergency by the WHO. We've been updating this throughout. At this point, over 2 billion people worldwide have been connected to credible information through these efforts across 189 countries. I honestly haven't seen the company come together in this way to support these efforts since a decade ago and tremendously good fall for that support. A lot of the things we're announcing today, I think, build on the work we did over the last year, so it's a continuation of that. Within the COVID-19 Information Center, one of my personal favorite features is the localized information. I live in San Mateo County in California, and I've been using the information center to get updates from my county health department on the vaccine rollout. Even though it's going to be a while before I get my vaccine, I found it really helpful to get that information.
Cardina: Absolutely. Facebook will also be partnering with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to reach Native American communities, Black communities, and Latinx communities, among others, with that evidence-based content. Is there anything else you want to share about that partnership?
Jin: I think we've been working really closely with a lot of these partners to just make sure that everyone who needs access to this information can get it. This is one of the things that we're really excited to continue partnering with.
Cardina: Excellent. I'd like to talk about the Data for Good project that was mentioned in the announcement. This project was launched in 2017. It allows Facebook to leverage its data for good, name of the project. But in 2020, this project actually supported local coronavirus responses. Could you share some examples of real-world impacts from either the COVID-19 Information Center or the Data for Good projects since the pandemic began?
Jin: Absolutely. I talked about this before, but just the overall reach of people with accurate information, I think, is really extraordinary. At this point, over 2 billion people from 189 countries have gotten reliable information about COVID and how they can really keep themselves safe through the Information Center and some of our other efforts. Specifically on the data side, we've seen the efforts by us and some of my partners have actually translated into results. For example, CDC Foundation and Ad Council in the United States last year ran a campaign around trying to increase people's masking behaviors. The measurement associated campaign showed that it increased people's behavior by almost four percentage points, which is quite significant. More generally, we've been partnering very closely with Carnegie Mellon University surveys to help people understand mastering trends and other key behaviors and needs that people have. This is now one of the primary sources of understanding this around the world.
Cardina: Excellent. Thank you so much. Facebook announced as part of this campaign that it is expanding efforts to remove false claims on Facebook and Instagram about COVID-19 as well as vaccines. The press release said, since the pandemic began, the company has removed more than 12 million pieces of content on Facebook and Instagram containing misinformation that could lead to eminent physical harm. Could you elaborate on the expanding efforts pertaining to the vaccine part?
Jin: Misinformation really thrives in the absence of credible information. Ultimately, what everyone wants is to keep themselves safe and healthy, and to keep their loved ones safe and healthy. That's why we've been so focused on a lot of the efforts to help people get credible information on our platform that I talked about today. As I mentioned, a lot of these things I think had real positive impacts and have been quite effective. At the same time, it's also important that we work on misinformation. We've been doing this, honestly, since the day the WHO declared this thing to be a public health emergency. We've been removing false claims around COVID-19 that could cause harm to folks that have been debunked by public health authorities. We've been updating that policy as the pandemic evolved and as our understanding or the world's understanding of things have changed. Early on, guidance around masks was much more mixed, and as the guidance around masks became clear, we've updated our policies in response. The announcement today on the misinformation side, I would view as an extension of our approach here. A year in, tremendously grateful that we have vaccines that work, and we want to make sure that we're removing misinformation along those lines as well.
Cardina: Certainly. Lastly, how do you see Facebook's role in the greater recovery from the coronavirus pandemic?
Jin: We're doing our best to support the experts here. One of our main roles is just helping people connect to information and the support they need. All of those things we talked about earlier today. Another role, and I think this is something that it's sometimes easy to get lost in the numbers, is ultimately getting through this is going to be about people and people helping each other. It's been really heartening to see a couple examples playing out on our platform. I recently heard from a colleague in Tel-Aviv about how Phoenix and people were using WhatsApp groups to share information about when and where to access the vaccine. It's a similar story in Florida, where a couple created a Facebook group early on in the pandemic, initially just to help make sense of all the information going on. At this point, it's a thriving community with over 16,000 people in it who are now helping each other get vaccinated neighbor to neighbor. I find a lot of these things really inspiring. These are the ways we hope our tools are used for, and we hope to see more of that in the coming days.
Cardina: Excellent. Thank you so much. Is there anything else that you want people to know from Facebook's most recent announcement around the vaccination efforts or anything I missed that you want to touch on?
Jin: No. I think that's about all.
Cardina: All right. Well, thank you so much for sharing your insights. We really enjoyed hearing from you, KX. We'll keep in touch. Have a great day.
Jin: Thank you. Take care.